SHE FELL WITH THE LETTER STILL IN HER HAND
BY ANNA KATHARINE GREEN
Author of "The Leavenworth Case," "The Millionaire
Baby," "The House of the Whispering Pines."
WITH FRONTISPIECE IN COLORS
By ARTHUR I. KELLER
A. L. BURT COMPANY
PUBLISHERS Niw YORK
BY STREET AND SMITH
BY DODD, MEAD & Co.
Published, September, 1911
AS SEEN BY TWO STRANGERS
I POINSETTIAS I
II " I KNOW THE MAN " 10
III THE MAN 17
IV SWEET LITTLE Miss CLARKE ... 27
V THE RED CLOAK 42
VI INTEGRITY 55
VII THE LETTERS 62
VIII STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE ... 67
IX THE INCIDENT OF THE PARTLY LIFTED
AS SEEN BY DETECTIVE SWEETWATER
X A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION .... 93
XI ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS 112
XII MR. GRYCE FINDS AN ANTIDOTE FOR
OLD AGE 122
XIII TIME, CIRCUMSTANCE, AND A VILLAIN'S
XIV A CONCESSION 133
XV THAT'S THE QUESTION 141
XVI OPPOSED I4S
XVII IN WHICH A BOOK PLAYS LEADING
XVIII WHAT AM I TO Do Now? .... 170
XIX THE DANGER MOMENT . . . . .177
XX CONFUSION 189
XXI A CHANGE 194
XXII O. B. AGAIN 195
THE HEART OF MAN
XXIII DORIS ;. .. ; -. 205
XXIV SUSPENSE 214
XXV THE OVAL HUT 218
XXVI SWEETWATER RETURNS 227
XXVII THE IMAGE OF DREAD 233
XXVIII I HOPE NEVER TO SEE THAT MAN . . 243
XXIX Do You KNOW MY BROTHER? . . . 253
XXX CHAOS 262
XXXI WHAT is HE MAKING? 274
XXXII TELL ME, TELL IT ALL 278
XXXIII ALONE! 286
XXXIV THE HUT CHANGES ITS NAME . . . 293
XXXV SILENCE AND A KNOCK .... 303
XXXVI THE MAN WITHIN AND THE MAN
XXXVII His GREAT HOUR 317
XXXVIII NIGHT 326
XXXIX THE AVENGER 339
XL DESOLATE 345
XLI FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING . . 349
XLII AT Six . . .352
AS SEEN BY TWO STRANGERS
" A remarkable man! "
It was not my husband speaking, but some pas-
serby. However, I looked up at George with a smile,
and found him looking down at me with much the
same humour. We had often spoken of the odd
phrases one hears in the street, and how interesting it
would be sometimes to hear a little more of the con-
" That's a case in point," he laughed, as he guided
me through the crowd of theatre-goers which inva-
riably block this part of Broadway at the hour of
eight. " We shall never know whose eulogy we have
just heard. * A remarkable man ! ' There are not
many of them."
" No," was my somewhat indifferent reply. It
was a keen winter night and snow was packed upon
the walks in a way to throw into sharp relief the fig-
ures of such pedestrians as happened to be walking
alone. " But it seems to me that, so far as general
appearance goes, the one in front answers your de-
scription most admirably."
I pointed to a man hurrying around the corner just
ahead of us.
" Yes, he's remarkably well built. I noticed him
when he came out of the Clermont." This was a
hotel we had just passed.
2 INITIALS ONLY
" But it's not only that. It's his height, his very
striking features, his expression " I stopped sud-
denly, gripping George's arm convulsively in a sur-
prise he appeared to share. We had turned the
corner immediately behind the man of whom we
were speaking and so had him still in full view.
"What's he doing?" I asked, in a low whisper.
We were only a few feet behind. "Look! look!
don't you call that curious? "
My husband stared, then uttered a low, " Rather."
The man ahead of us, presenting in every respect
the appearance of a gentleman, had suddenly stooped
to the kerb and was washing his hands in the snow,
furtively, but with a vigour and purpose which could
not fail to arouse the strangest conjectures in any
" Pilate ! " escaped my lips, in a sort of nervous
chuckle. But George shook his head at me.
" I don't like it," he muttered, with unusual grav-
ity. "Did you see his face?" Then as the man
rose and hurried away from us down the street, " I
should like to follow him. I do believe "
But here we became aware of a quick rush and
sudden clamour around the corner we had just left,
and turning quickly, saw that something had occurred
on Broadway which was fast causing a tumult.
"What's the matter?" I cried. "What can
have happened? Let's go see, George. Perhaps it
has something to do with our man."
My husband, with a final glance down the street
at the fast disappearing figure, yielded to my impor-
tunity, and possibly to some new curiosity of his own.
" I'd like to stop that man first," said he. " But
what excuse have I? He may be nothing but a
crank, with some crack-brained idea in his head.
We'll soon know; for there's certainly something
wrong there on Broadway."
" He came out of the Clermont," I suggested.
" I know. If the excitement isn't there, what
weVe just seen is simply a coincidence." Then, as
we retraced our steps to the corner "Whatever
we hear or see, don't say anything about this man.
It's after eight, remember, and we promised Adela
that we would be at the house before nine."
" I'll be quiet."
It was the last word he had time to speak before
we found ourselves in the midst of a crowd of men
and women, jostling one another in curiosity or in
the consternation following a quick alarm. All
were looking one way, and, as this was towards the
entrance of the Clermont, it was evident enough to
us that the alarm had indeed had its origin in the
very place we had anticipated. I felt my husband's
arm press me closer to his side as we worked our way
towards the entrance, and presently caught a warn-
ing sound from his lips as the oaths and confused
cries everywhere surrounding us were broken here
and there by articulate words and we heard:
"Is it murder?"
" The beautiful Miss Challoner! "
" A millionairess in her own right! "
" Killed, they say."
"No, no! suddenly dead; that's all."
4 INITIALS ONLY
" George, what shall we do? " I managed to cry
into my husband's ear.
" Get out of this. There is no chance of our
reaching that door, and I can't have you standing
round any longer in this icy slush."
"But but is it right?" I urged, in an impor-
tunate whisper. " Should we go home while he "
"Hush! My first duty is to you. We will go
make our visit; but to-morrow "
" I can't wait till to-morrow," I pleaded, wild to
satisfy my curiosity in regard to an event in which I
naturally felt a keen personal interest.
He drew me as near to the edge of the crowd as
he could. There were new murmurs all about us.
" If it's a case of heart-failure, why send for the
police? " asked one.
" It is better to have an officer or two here,"
" Here comes a cop."
" Well, I'm going to vamoose."
" I'll tell you what I'll do," whispered George,
who, for all his bluster was as curious as myself.
" We will try the rear door where there are fewer
persons. Possibly we can make our way in there,
and if we can, Slater will tell us all we want to
Slater was the assistant manager of the Clermont,
and one of George's oldest friends.
" Then hurry," said I. " I am being crushed
George did hurry, and in a few minutes we were
before the rear entrance of the great hotel. There
was a mob gathered here also, but it was neither so
large nor so rough as the one on Broadway. Yet I
doubt if we should have been able to work our way
through it if Slater had not, at that very instant,
shown himself in the doorway, in company with an
officer to whom he was giving some final instruc-
tions. George caught his eye as soon as he was
through with the man, and ventured on what I
thought a rather uncalled for plea.
" Let us in, Slater," he begged. " My wife feels
a little faint ; she has been knocked about so by the
The manager glanced at my face, and shouted to
the people around us to make room. I felt myself
lifted up, and that is all I remember of this part of
our adventure. For, affected more than I realised
by the excitement of the event, I no sooner saw the
way cleared for our entrance than I made good my
husband's words by fainting away in earnest.
When I came to, it was suddenly and with perfect
recognition of my surroundings. The small recep-
tion room to which I had been taken was one I had
often visited, and its familiar features did not hold
my attention for a moment. What I did see and
welcome was my husband's face bending close over
me, and to him I spoke first. My words must have
sounded oddly to those about. " Have they told you
anything about it? " I asked. " Did he "
A quick pressure on my arm silenced me, and then
I noticed that we were not alone. Two or three
ladies stood near, watching me, and one had evi-
dently been using some restorative, for she held a
6 INITIALS ONLY
small vinaigrette in her hand. To this lady, George
made haste to introduce me, and from her I pres-
ently learned the cause of the disturbance in the hotel.
It was of a somewhat different nature from what
I expected, and during the recital, I could not prevent
myself from casting furtive and inquiring glances at
Edith, the well-known daughter of Moses Chal-
loner, had fallen suddenly dead on the floor of the
mezzanine. She was not known to have been in
poor health, still less in danger of a fatal attack,
and the shock was consequently great to her friends,
several of whom were in the building. Indeed, it
was likely to prove a shock to the whole community,
for she had great claims to general admiration, and
her death must be regarded as a calamity to persons
in all stations of life.
I realised this myself, for I had heard much of the
young lady's private virtues, as well as of her great
beauty and distinguished manner. A heavy loss, in-
" Was she alone when she fell? " I asked.
" Virtually alone. Some persons sat on the other
side of the room, reading at the big round table.
They did not even hear her fall. They say that the
band was playing unusually loud in the musicians'
" Are you feeling quite well, now? "
" Quite myself," I gratefully replied as I rose
slowly from the sofa. Then, as my kind informer
stepped aside, I turned to George with the proposal
that we should go now.
He seemed as anxious as myself to leave, and to-
gether we moved towards the door, while the hum of
excited comment which the intrusion of a fainting,
woman had undoubtedly interrupted, recommenced
behind us till the whole room buzzed.
In the hall we encountered Mr. Slater, whom I
have before mentioned. He was trying to maintain
order while himself in a state of great agitation.
Seeing us, he could not refrain from whispering a
few words into my husband's ear.
' The doctor has just gone up her doctor, I
mean. He's simply dumbfounded. Says that she
was the healthiest woman in New York yesterday.
I think don't mention it, that he suspects some-
thing quite different from heart failure."
' What do you mean?" asked George, following
the assistant manager down the broad flight of steps
leading to the office. Then, as I pressed up close
to Mr. Slater's other side, " She was by herself,
wasn't she, in the half floor above? "
1 Yes, and had been writing a letter. She fell
with it still in her hand."
" Have they carried her to her room? " I eagerly
inquired, glancing fearfully up at the large semi-cir-
cular openings overlooking us from the place where
she had fallen.
" Not yet. Mr. Hammond insists upon waiting
for the coroner." (Mr. Hammond was the pro-
prietor of the hotel.) "She is lying on one of the
big couches near which she fell. If you like, I can
give you a glimpse of her. She looks beautiful.
It's terrible to think that she is dead."
8 INITIALS ONLY
I don't know why we consented. We were under
a spell, I think. At all events, we accepted his offer
and followed him up a narrow staircase open to very
few that night. At the top, he turned upon us with
a warning gesture which I hardly think we needed,
and led us down a narrow hall flanked by openings
corresponding to those we had noted from below.
At the furthest one he paused and, beckoning us to
his side, pointed across the lobby into the large writ-
ing-room which occupied the better part of the mez-
We saw people standing in various attitudes of
grief and dismay about a couch, one end of which
only was visible to us at the moment. The doctor
had just joined them, and every head was turned
towards him and every body bent ^orward in anxious
expectation. I remember the face of one grey haired
old man. I shall never forget it. He was prob-
ably her father. Later, I knew him to be so. Her
face, even her form, was entirely hidden from us,
but as we watched (I have often thought with what
heartless curiosity) a sudden movement took place
in the whole group < and for one instant a startling
picture presented itself to our gaze. Miss Challoner
was stretched out upon the couch. She was dressed
as she came from dinner, in a gown of ivory-tinted
satin, relieved at the breast by a large bouquet of
scarlet poinsettias. I mention this adornment, be-
cause it was what first met and drew our eyes and
the eyes of every one about her, though the face,
now quite revealed, would seem to have the greater
attraction. But the cause was evident and one not
to be resisted. The doctor was pointing at these
poinsettias in horror and with awful meaning, and
though we could not hear his words, we knew almost
instinctively, both from his attitude and the cries
which burst from the lips of those about him, that
something more than broken petals and disordered
laces had met his eyes ; that blood was there slowly
oozing drops from the heart which for some rea-
son had escaped all eyes till now.
Miss Challoner was dead, not from unsuspected
disease, but from the violent attack of some murder-
ous weapon. As the realisation of this brought fresh
panic and bowed the old father's head with emotions
even more bitter than those of grief, I turned a ques-
tioning look up at George's face.
It was fixed with a purpose I had no trouble in
" I KNOW THE MAN "
YET he made no effort to detain Mr. Slater, when
that gentleman, under this renewed excitement, has-
tily left us. He-was not the man to rush into any-
thing impulsively, and not even the presence of mur-
der could change his ways.
" I want to feel sure of myself," he explained.
" Can you bear the strain of waiting around a little
longer, Laura? I mustn't forget that you fainted
" Yes, I can bear it; much better than I could bear
going to Adela's in my present state of mind. Don't
you think the man we saw had something to do with
this? Don't you believe "
" Hush ! Let us listen rather than talk. What
are they saying over there? Can you hear? "
" No. And I cannot bear to look. Yet I don't
want to go away. It's all so dreadful."
" It's devilish. Such a beautiful girl ! Laura, I
must leave you for a moment. Do you mind? "
"No, no; yet "
I did mind; but he was gone before I could take
back my word. Alone, I felt the tragedy much
more than when he was with me. Instead of watch-
ing, as I had hitherto done, every movement in the
room opposite, I drew back against the wall and hid
my eyes, waiting feverishly for George's return.
"I KNOW THE MAN' n
He came, when he did come, in some haste and
with certain marks of increased agitation.
" Laura," said he, " Slater says that we may pos-
sibly be wanted and proposes that we stay here all
night* I have telephoned Adela and have made it
all right at home. Will you come to your room?
This is no place for you."
Nothing could have pleased me better ; to be near
and yet not the direct observer of proceedings in
which we took so secret an interest! I showed my
gratitude by following George immediately. But I
could not go without casting another glance at the
tragic scene I was leaving. A stir was perceptible
there, and I was just in time to see its cause. A tall,
angular gentleman was approaching from the direc-
tion of the musicians' gallery, and from the manner
of all present, as well as from the whispered com-
ment of my husband, I recognised in him the special
official for whom all had been waiting.
" Are you going to tell him? " was my question to
George as we made our way down to the lobby.
' That depends. First, I am going to see you
settled in a room quite remote from this business."
" I shall not like that."
" I know, my dear, but it is best."
I could not gainsay this.
Nevertheless, after the first few minutes of relief,
I found it very lonesome upstairs. The pictures
which crowded upon me of the various groups of
excited and wildly-gesticulating men and women
through which we had passed on our way up, min-
gled themselves with the solemn horror of the scene
12 INITIALS ONLY
in the writing-room, with its fleeting vision of youth
and beauty lying pulseless in sudden death. I
could not escape the one without feeling the imme-
diate impress of the other, and if by chance they
both yielded for an instant to that earlier scene of a
desolate street, with its solitary lamp shining down
on the crouched figure of a man washing his shak-
ing hands in a drift of freshly fallen snow, they im-
mediately rushed back with a force and clearness all
the greater for the momentary lapse.
I was still struggling with these fancies when the
door opened, and George came in. There was news
in his face as I rushed to meet him.
"Tell me tell," I begged.
He tried to smile at my eagerness, but the attempt
" I've been listening and looking," said he, " and
this is all I have learned. Miss Challoner died, not
from a stroke or from disease of any kind, but from
a wound reaching the heart. No one saw the at-
tack, or even the approach or departure of the per-
son inflicting this wound. If she was killed by a
pistol-shot, it was at a distance, and almost over the
heads of the persons sitting at the table we saw there.
But the doctors shake their heads at the word pistol-
shot, though they refuse to explain themselves or to
express any opinion till the wound has been probed.
This they are going to do at once, and when that
question is decided, I may feel it my duty to speak
and may ask you to support my story."
" I will tell what I saw," said I.
" Very good. That is all that will be required.
" I KNOW THE MAN " 13
We are strangers to the parties concerned, and only
speak from a sense of justice. It may be that our
story will make no impression, and that we shall be
dismissed with but few thanks. But that is nothing
to us. If the woman has been murdered, he is the
murderer. With such a conviction in my mind, there
can be no doubt as to my duty."
" We can never make them understand how he
" No. I don't expect to."
" Or his manner as he fled."
" Nor that either."
' We can only describe what we saw him do."
" That's all."
" Oh, what an adventure for quiet people like us 1
George, I don't believe he shot her."
" He must have."
" But they would have seen have heard the
people around, I mean."
" So they say; but I have a theory but no mat-
ter about that now. I'm going down again to see
how things have progressed. I'll be back for you
later. Only be ready."
Be ready! I almost laughed, a hysterical
laugh, of course, when I recalled the injunction. Be
ready! This lonely sitting by myself, with nothing
to do but think was a fine preparation for a sudden
appearance before those men some of them police-
officers, no doubt.
But that's enough about myself; I'm not the hero-
ine of this story. In a half hour or an hour >
I never knew which George reappeared, only to
ii 4 INITIALS ONLY
tell me that no conclusions had as yet been reached;
an element of great mystery involved the whole
affair, and the most astute detectives on the force had
been sent for. Her father, who had been her con-
stant companion all winter, had not the least sugges-
tion to offer in way of its solution. So far as he
knew and he believed himself to have been in per-
fect accord with his daughter she had injured no
one. She had just lived the even, happy and useful
life of a young woman of means, who sees duties be-
yond those of her own household and immediate sur-
roundings. If, in the fulfillment of those duties,
she had encountered any obstacle to content, he did
not know it; nor could he mention a friend of hers
he would even say lovers, since that was what he
meant who to his knowledge could be accused of
harbouring any such passion of revenge as was man-
ifested in this secret and diabolical attack. They were
all gentlemen and respected her as heartily as they
appeared to admire her. To no living being, man
or woman, could he point as possessing any motive
for such a deed. She had been the victim of some
mistake, his lovely and ever kindly disposed daugh-
ter, and while the loss was irreparable he would never
make it unendurable by thinking otherwise.
Such was the father's way of looking at the mat-
ter, and I own that it made our duty a trifle hard.
But George's mind, when once made up, was per-
sistent to the point of obstinacy, and while he was
yet talking he led me out of the room and down the
hall to the elevator.
" Mr. Slater knows we have something to say,
"I KNOW THE MAN" 15
and will manage the interview before us in the very
best manner," he confided to me now with an en-
couraging air. ' We are to go to the blue reception
room on the parlour floor."
I nodded, and nothing more was said till we en-
tered the place mentioned. Here we came upon
several gentlemen, standing about, of a more or less
professional appearance. This was not very agree-
able to one of my retiring disposition, but a took
from George brought back my courage, and I found
myself waiting rather anxiously for the questions I
expected to hear put.
Mr. Slater was there according to his promise,
and after introducing us, briefly stated that we had
some evidence to give regarding the terrible occur-
rence which had just taken place in the house.
George bowed, and the chief spokesman I am
sure he was a police-officer of some kind asked
him to tell what it was.
George drew himself up George is not one of
your tall men, but he makes a very good appearance
at times. Then he seemed suddenly to collapse.
The sight of their expectation made him feel how
flat and childish his story would sound. I, who had
shared his adventure, understood his embarrassment,
but the others were evidently at a loss to do so, for
they glanced askance at each other as he hesitated,
and only looked back when I ventured to say :
" It's the peculiarity of the occurrence which af-
fects my husband. The thing we saw may mean
" Let us hear what it was and we will judge."
1 6 INITIALS ONLY
Then my husband spoke up, and related our little
experience. If it did not create a sensation, it was
because these men were well accustomed to surprises
of all kinds.
" Washed his hands a gentleman out there
in the snow just after the alarm was raised here? "
" And you saw him come out of this house? " an-
other put in.
' Yes, sir; we noticed him particularly."
" Can you describe him? "
It was Mr. Slater who put this question; he had
less control over himself, and considerable eagerness
could be heard in his voice.
" He was a very fine-looking man; unusually tall
and unusually striking both in his dress and appear-
ance. What I could see of his face was bare of
beard, and very expressive. He walked with the
swing of an athlete, and only looked mean and small
when he was stooping and dabbling in the snow."
" His clothes. Describe his clothes." There was
an odd sound in Mr. Slater's voice.
" He wore a silk hat and there was fur on his
overcoat. I think the fur was black."
Mr. Slater stepped back, then moved forward
again with a determined air.
" I know the man," said he.
" You know the man? "
"I do ; or rather, I know a man who answers to
this description. He comes here once in a while. I
do not know whether or not he was in the building
to-night, but Clausen can tell you; no one escapes
" His name."
" Brotherson. A very uncommon person in many
respects ; quite capable of such an eccentricity, but in-
capable, I should say, of crime. He's a gifted talker
and so well read that he can hold one's attention for
hours. Of his tastes, I can only say that they appear
to be mainly scientific. But he is not averse to so-
ciety, and is always very well dressed."
" A taste for science and for fine clothing do not
often go together."
" This man is an exception to all rules. The one
I'm speaking of, I mean. I don't say that he's the
fellow seen pottering in the snow."
" Call up Clausen."
The manager stepped to the telephone.
Meanwhile, George had advanced to speak to a
man who had beckoned to him from the other side
of the room, and with whom in another moment I
saw him step out. Thus deserted, I sank into a
chair near one of the windows. Never had I felt
1 8 INITIALS ONLY
more uncomfortable. To attribute guilt to a totally
unknown person a person who is little more to
you than a shadowy silhouette against a background
of snow is easy enough and not very disturbing to
the conscience. But to hear that person named;
given positive attributes; lifted from the indefinite
into a living, breathing actuality, with a man's hopes,
purposes and responsibilities, is an entirely different
proposition. This Brotherson might be the most
innocent person alive ; and, if so, what had we done ?
Nothing to congratulate ourselves upon, certainly.
And George was not present to comfort and encour-
age me. He was
Where was he? The man who had carried him
off was the youngest in the group. What had he
wanted of George? Those who remained showed
no interest in the matter. They had enough to say
among themselves. But I was interested natu-
rally so, and, in my uneasiness, glanced restlessly
from the window, the shade of which was up. The
outlook was a very peaceful one. This room faced
a side street, and, as my eyes fell upon the whitened
pavements, I received an answer to one, and that the
most anxious, of my queries. This was the street
into which we had turned, in the wake of the hand-
some stranger they were trying at this very moment
to identify with Brotherson. George had evidently
been asked to point out the exact spot where the man
had stopped, for I could see from my vantage point
two figures bending near the kerb, and even pawing
at the snow which lay there. It gave me a slight
turn when one of them I do not think it was
THE MAN 19
George began to rub his hands together in much
the way the unknown gentleman had done, and, in
my excitement, I probably uttered some sort of an
ejaculation, for I was suddenly conscious of a silence
in the room, and when I turned saw all the men
about me looking my way.
I attempted to smile, but instead, shuddered pain-
fully, as I raised my hand and pointed down at the
" They are imitating the man," I cried; " my hus-
band and and the person he went out with. It
looked dreadful to me ; that is all."
One of the gentlemen immediately said some kind
words to me, and another smiled in a very encourag-
ing way. But their attention was soon diverted, and
so was mine by the entrance of a man in semi-uni-
form, who was immediately addressed as Clausen.
I knew his face. He was one of the doorkeepers ;
the oldest employe about the hotel, and the one best
liked. I had often exchanged words with him my-
Mr. Slater at once put his question :
" Has Mr. Brotherson passed your door at any
time to-night? "
" Mr. Brotherson I I don't remember, really I
don't," was the unexpected reply. " It's not often I
forget. But so many people came rushing in dur-
ing those few minutes, and all so excited "
" Before the excitement, Clausen. A little while
before, possibly just before."
" Oh, now I recall him ! Yes, Mr. Brotherson
went out of my door not many minutes before the cry
20 INITIALS ONLY
upstairs. I forgot because I had stepped back
from the door to hand a lady the muff she had
dropped, and it was at that minute he went out. I
just got a glimpse of his back as he passed into the
" But you are sure of that back? "
" I don't know another like it, when he wears that
big coat of his. But Jim can tell you, sir. He was
in the cafe up to that minute, and that's where Mr.
Brotherson usually goes first."
u Very well; send up Jim. Tell him I have some
orders to give him."
The old man bowed and went out.
Meanwhile, Mr. Slater had exchanged some
words with the two officials, and now approached me
with an expression of extreme consideration. They
were about to excuse me from further participation
in this informal inquiry. This I saw before he
spoke. Of course they were right. But I should
greatly have preferred to stay where I was till George
However, I met him for an instant in the hall be-
fore I took the elevator, and later I heard in a
round-about way what Jim and some others about
the house had to say of Mr. Brotherson.
He was an habitue of the hotel, to the extent of
dining once or twice a week in the cafe, and smok-
ing, afterwards, in the public lobby. When he was
in the mood for talk, he would draw an ever-en-
larging group about him, but at other times he would
be seen sitting quite alone and morosely indifferent to
all who approached him. There was no mystery
THE MAN 21
about his business. He was an inventor, with one or
two valuable patents already on the market. But this
was not his only interest. He was an all round sort
of man, moody but brilliant in many ways a char-
acter which at once attracted and repelled, odd in
that he seemed to set little store by his good looks,
yet was most careful to dress himself in a way to
show them off to advantage. If he had means be-
yond the ordinary no one knew it, nor could any
man say that he had not. On all personal matters
he was very close-mouthed, though he would talk
about other men's riches in a way to show that he
cherished some very extreme views.
This was all which could be learned about him
off-hand, and at so late an hour. I was greatly
interested, of course, and had plenty to think of till
I saw George again and learned the result of the
Miss Challoner had been shot, not stabbed. No
other deduction was possible from such facts as were
now known, though the physicians had not yet
handed in their report, or even intimated what that
report would be. No assailant could have ap-
proached or left her, without attracting the notice of
some one, if not all of the persons seated at a table
in the same room. She could only have been reached
by a bullet sent from a point near the head of a small
winding staircase connecting the mezzanine floor
with a coat-room adjacent to the front door. This
has already been insisted on, as you will remember,
and if you will glance at the diagram which George
hastily scrawled for me, you will see why.
A. B., as well as C. D., are half circular open-
ings into the office lobby. E. F. are windows giving
upon Broadway, and G. the party wall, necessarily
DINING ROOM LEVEL WITH LOBBY
unbroken by window, door or any other opening. It
follows then that the only possible means of approach
to this room lies through the archway H., or from the
elevator door. But the elevator made no stop
THE MAN 23
at the mezzanine on or near the time of the attack
upon Miss Challoner; nor did any one leave the table
or pass by it in either direction till after the alarm
given by her fall.
But a bullet calls for no approach. A man at X.
might raise and fire his pistol without attracting any
attention to himself. The music, which all acknowl-
edge was at its full climax at this moment, would
drown the noise of the explosion, and the staircase,
out of view of all but the victim, afford the same
means of immediate escape, which it must have given
of secret and unseen approach. The coat-room into
which it descended communicated with the lobby very
near the main entrance, and if Mr. Brotherson were
the man, his sudden appearance there would thus be
To be sure, this gentleman had not been noticed in
the coatroom by the man then in charge, but if the
latter hfcd been engaged at that instant, as he often
was, in hanging up or taking down a coat from the
rack, a person might easily pass by him and disap-
pear into the lobby without attracting his attention.
So many people passed that way from the dining-
room beyond, and so many of these were tall, fine-
looking and well-dressed.
It began to look bad for this man, if indeed he
were the one we had seen under the street-lamp ; and,
as George and I reviewed the situation, we felt our
position to be serious enough for us severally to set
down our impressions of this man before we lost
our first vivid idea. I do not know what George
wrote, for he sealed his words up as soon as he had
24 INITIALS ONLY
finished writing, but this is what I put on paper
while my memory was still fresh and my excitement
He had the look of a man of powerful intellect and deter-
mined will, who shudders while he triumphs ; who outwardly
washes his hands of a deed over which he inwardly gloats.
This was when he first rose from the snow. Afterwards
he had a moment of fear; plain, human, everyday fear. But
this was evanescent. Before he had turned to go, he showed
the self-possession of one who feels himself so secure, or is so
well-satisfied with himself, that he is no longer conscious
of other emotions.
" Poor fellow," I commented aloud, as I folded
up these words ; " he reckoned without you, George.
By to-morrow he will be in the hands of the police."
"Poor fellow?" he repeated. "Better say
1 Poor Miss Challoner ! ' They tell me she was one
of those perfect women who reconcile even the pes-
simist to humanity and the age we live in. Why any
one should want to kill her is a mystery; but why
this man should There! no one professes to ex-
plain it. They simply go by the facts. To-morrow
surely must bring strange revelations."
And with this sentence ringing in my mind, I lay
down and endeavoured to sleep. But it was not
till very late that rest came. The noise of passing
feet, though muffled beyond their wont, roused me
in spite of myself. These footsteps might be those
of some late arrival, or they might be those of some
wary detective intent on business far removed from
the usual routine of life in this great hotel.
THE MAN 25
I recalled the glimpse I had had of the writing-
room in the early evening, and imagined it as it was
now, with Miss Challoner's body removed and the
incongruous flitting of strange and busy figures across
its fatal floors, measuring distances and peering into
corners, while hundreds slept above and about them
in undisturbed repose.
Then I thought of him, the suspected and possibly
guilty one. In visions over which I had little if any
control, I saw him in all the restlessness of a slowly
dying down excitement the surroundings strange
and unknown to me, the figure not seeking for
quiet; facing the past; facing the future; knowing,
perhaps, for the first time in his life what it was for
crime and remorse to murder sleep. I could not
think of him as lying still slumbering like the rest
of mankind, in the hope and expectation of a busy
morrow. Crime perpetrated looms so large in the
soul, and this man had a soul as big as his body; of
that I was assured. That its instincts were cruel and
inherently evil, did not lessen its capacity for suffer-
ing. And he was suffering now; I could not doubt
it, remembering the lovely face and fragrant memory
of the noble woman he had, under some unknown im-
pulse, sent to an unmerited doom.
At last I slept, but it was only to rouse again with
the same quick realisation of my surroundings, which
I had experienced on my recovery from my fainting
fit of hours before. Someone had stopped at our
door before hurrying by down the hall. Who was
that someone? I rose on my elbow, and endeav-
oured to peer through the dark. Of course, I could
26 INITIALS ONLY
see nothing. But when I woke a second time, there
was enough light in the room, early as it undoubtedly
was, for me to detect a letter lying on the carpet just
inside the door.
Instantly I was on my feet. Catching the letter
up, I carried it to the window. Our two names were
on it Mr. and Mrs. George Anderson : the writ-
ing, Mr. Slater's.
I glanced over at George. He was sleeping
peacefully. It was too early to wake him, but I
could not lay that letter down unread; was not my
name on it? Tearing it open, I devoured its con-
tents, the exclamation I made on reading it, waking
The writing was in Mr. Slater's hand, and the
" I must request, at the instance of Coroner Heath and
such of the police as listened to your adventure, that you
make no further mention of what you saw in the street under
our windows last night. The doctors find no bullet in the
wound. This clears Mr. Brotherson."
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE
WHEN we took our seats at the breakfast-table, it
was with the feeling of being no longer looked upon
as connected in any way with this case. Yet our in-
terest in it was, if anything, increased, and when I saw
George casting furtive glances at a certain table be-
hind me, I leaned over and asked him the reason,
being sure that the people whose faces I saw reflected
in the mirror directly before us had something to do
with the great matter then engrossing us.
His answer conveyed the somewhat exciting in-
formation that the four persons seated in my rear
were the same four who had been reading at the
round table in the mezzanine at the time of Miss
Instantly they absorbed all my attention, though
I dared not give them a direct look, and continued to
observe them only in the glass.
" Is it one family? " I asked.
" Yes, and a very respectable one. Transients, of
course, but very well known in Denver. The lady
is not the mother of the boys, but their aunt. The
boys belong to the gentleman, who is a widower."
" Their word ought to be good."
" The boys look wide-awake enough if the father
does not. As for the aunt, she is sweetness itself.
28 i INITIALS ONLY
Do they still insist that Miss Challoner was the only
person in the room with them at this time? "
" They did last night. I don't know how they will
meet this statement of the doctor's."
He leaned nearer.
" Have you ever thought that she might have been
a suicide? That she stabbed herself? "
" No, for in that case a weapon would have been
" And are you sure that none was? "
" Positive. Such a fact could not have been kept
quiet. If a weapon had been picked up there would
be no mystery, and no necessity for further police
" And the detectives are still here ? "
" I just saw one."
Again his head came nearer.
" Have they searched the lobby? I believe she
had a weapon."
" I know it sounds foolish, but the alternative is
so improbable. A family like that cannot be leagued
together in a conspiracy to hide the truth concerning
a matter so serious. To be sure, they may all be
short-sighted, or so little given to observation that
they didn't see what passed before their eyes. The
boys look wide-awake enough, but who can tell? I
would sooner believe that "
I stopped short so suddenly that George looked
startled. My attention had been caught by some-
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 29
thing new I saw in the mirror upon which my at-
tention was fixed. A man was looking in from the
corridor behind, at the four persons we were just
discussing. He was watching them intently, and I
thought I knew his face.
" What kind of a looking person was the man who
took you outside last night? " I inquired of George,
with my eyes still on this furtive watcher.
" A fellow to make you laugh. A perfect char-
acter, Laura ; hideously homely but agreeable enough.
I took quite a fancy to him. Why? "
" I am looking at him now."
' Very likely. He's deep in this affair. Just an
everyday detective, but ambitious, I suppose, and
quite alive to the importance of being thorough."
" He is watching those people. No, he isn't.
How quickly he disappeared 1 "
" Yes, he's mercurial in all his movements.
Laura, we must get out of this. There happens
to be something else in the world for me to do than
to sit around and follow up murder clews."
But we began to doubt if others agreed with him,
when on passing out we were stopped in the lobby
by this same detective, who had something to say to
George, and drew him quickly aside.
"What does he want?" I asked, as soon as
George had returned to my side.
" He wants me to stand ready to obey any sum-
mons the police may send me."
"Then they still suspect Brotherson?"
" They must."
My head rose a trifle as I glanced up at George.
3 o INITIALS ONLY
"Then we are not altogether out of it?" I em-
He smiled which hardly seemed a propos.
Why does George sometimes smile when I am in
my most serious moods.
As we stepped out of the hotel, George gave my
arm a quiet pinch which served to direct my attention
to an elderly gentleman who was just alighting from
a taxicab at the kerb. He moved heavily and with
some appearance of pain, but from the crowd col-
lected on the sidewalk many of whom nudged each
other as he passed, he was evidently a person of
some importance, and as he disappeared within the
hotel entrance, I asked George who this kind-faced,
bright-eyed old gentleman could be.
He appeared to know, for he told me at once that
he was Detective Gryce; a man who had grown old
in solving just such baffling problems as these.
" He gave up work some time ago, I have been
told," my husband went on; " but evidently a great
case still has its allurement for him. The trail here
must be a very blind one for them to call him in.
I wish we had not left so soon. It would have been
quite an experience to see him at work."
" I doubt if you would have been given the op-
portunity. I noticed that we were slightly de trop
towards the last."
"I wouldn't have minded that; not on my own
account, that is. It might not have been pleasant
for you. However, the office is waiting. Come,
let me put you on the car."
That night I bided his coming with an impatience
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 31
I could not control. He was late, of course, but
when he did appear, I almost forgot our usual
greeting in my hurry to ask him if he had seen the
" No," he grumbled, as he hung up his overcoat.
" Been pushed about all day. No time for any-
" Then let me tell you "
But he would have dinner first.
However, a little later we had a comfortable chat.
Mr. Gryce had made a discovery, and the papers
were full of it. It was one which gave me a small
triumph over George. The suggestion he had
laughed at was not so entirely foolish as he had been
pleased to consider it. But let me tell the story
of that day, without any further reference to myself.
The opinion had become quite general with those
best acquainted with the details of this affair, that
the mystery was one of those abnormal ones for which
no solution would ever be found, when the aged
detective showed himself in the building and was
taken to the room, where an Inspector of "Police
awaited him. Their greeting was cordial, and the
lines on the latter's face relaxed a little as he met
the still bright eye of the man upon whose instinct
and judgment so much reliance had always been
' This is very good of you," he began, glancing
down at the aged detective's bundled up legs, and
gently pushing a chair towards him. " I know that
it was a great deal to ask, but we're at our wits' end,
and so I telephoned. It's the most inexplicable
32 INITIALS ONLY
There! you have heard that phrase before. But
clews there are absolutely none. That is, we have
not been able to find any. Perhaps you can. At
least, that is what we hope. I've known you more
than once to succeed where others have failed."
The elderly man thus addressed, glanced down at
his legs, now propped up on a stool which someone
had brought him, and smiled, with the pathos of the
old who sees the interests of a lifetime slipping
" I am not what I was. I can no longer get down
on my hands and knees to pick up threads from the
nap of a rug, or spy out a spot of blood in the
crimson woof of a carpet."
" You shall have Sweetwater here to do the active
work for you. What we want of you is the directing
mind the infallible instinct. It's a case in a
thousand, Gryce. We've never had anything just
like it. You've never had anything at all like it. It
will make you young again."
The old man's eyes shot fire and unconsciously
one foot slipped to the floor. Then he bethought
himself and painfully lifted it back again.
" What are the points? What's the difficulty? "
he asked. " A woman has been shot "
" No, not shot, stabbed. We thought she had
been shot, for that was intelligible and involved no
impossibilities. But Drs. Heath and Webster, under
the eye of the Challoners' own physician, have made
an examination of the wound an official one,
thorough and quite final so far as they are concerned,
and they declare that no bullet is to be found in the
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 33
body. As the wound extends no further than the
heart, this settles one great point, at least."
" Dr. Heath is a reliable man and one of our ablest
" Yes. There can be no question as to the truth
of his report. You know the victim? Her name,
I mean, and the character she bore?"
" Yes; so much was told me on my way down."
" A fine girl unspoiled by riches and seeming in-
dependence. Happy, too, to all appearance, or we
should be more ready to consider the possibility of
" Suicide by stabbing calls for a weapon. Yet
none has been found, I hear."
" Yet she was killed that way? "
" Undoubtedly, and by a long and very narrow
blade, larger than a needle but not so large as the
" Stabbed while by herself, or what you may call
by herself? She had no companion near her?"
" None, if we can believe the four members of
the Parrish family who were seated at the other end
of the room."
" And you do believe them? "
"Would a whole family lie and needlessly?
They never knew the woman father, maiden aunt
and two boys, clear-eyed, jolly young chaps whom
even the horror of this tragedy, perpetrated as it
were under their very nose, cannot make serious for
more than a passing moment."
-" It wouldn't seem so."
^ INITIALS ONLY
" Yet they swear up and down that nobody crossed
the room towards Miss Challoner."
" So they tell me."
" She fell just a few feet from the desk where she
had been writing. No word, no cry, just a col-
lapse and sudden fall. In olden days they would
have said, struck by a bolt from heaven. But it
was a bolt which drew blood; not much blood, I hear,
but sufficient to end life almost instantly. She never
looked up or spoke again. What do you make of
" It's a tough one, and I'm not ready to venture an
opinion yet. I should like to see the desk you speak
of, and the spot where she fell."
A young fellow who had been hovering in the back-
ground at once stepped forward. He was the plain-
faced detective who had spoken to George.
" Will you take my arm, sir? "
Mr. Gryce's whole face brightened. This Sweet-
water, as they called him, was, I have since under-
stood, one of his proteges and more or less of a
" Have you had a chance at this thing? " he asked.
"Been over the ground studied the affair care-
" Yes, sir; they were good enough to allow it."
" Very well, then, you're in a position to pioneer
me. You've seen it all and won't be in a hurry."
" No; I'm at the end of my rope. I haven't an
" Well, well, that's honest at all events." Then,
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 35
as he slowly rose with the other's careful assistance,
' There's no crime without its clew. The thing is
to recognise that clew when seen. But I'm in no
position to make promises. Old days don't return
for the asking."
Nevertheless, he looked ten years younger than
when he came in, or so thought those who knew him.
The mezzanine was guarded from all visitors save
such as had official sanction. Consequently, the two
remained quite uninterrupted while they moved
about the place in quiet consultation. Others had
preceded them; had examined the plain little desk
and found nothing; had paced off the distances; had
looked with longing and inquiring eyes at the elevator
cage and the open archway leading to the little stair-
case and the musicians' gallery. But this was noth-
ing to the old detective. The locale was what he
wanted, and he got it. Whether he got anything
else it would be impossible to say from his manner
as he finally sank into a chair by one of the open-
ings, and looked down on the lobby below. It was
full of people coming and going on all sorts of busi-
ness, and presently he drew back, and, leaning on
Sweetwater's arm, asked him a few questions.
' Who were the first to rush in here after the Par-
rishes gave the alarm?"
" One or two of the musicians from the end of the
hall. They had just finished their programme and
were preparing to leave the gallery. Naturally they
reached her first."
" Good! their names? "
36 INITIALS ONLY
" Mark Sowerby and Claus Hennerberg. Honest
Germans men who have played here for years."
" And who followed them ? Who came next on
the scene? "
" Some people from the lobby. They heard the
disturbance and rushed up pell-mell. But not one
of these touched her. Later her father came."
"Who did touch her? Anybody, before the fa-
ther came in? "
" Yes ; Miss Clarke, the middle-aged lady with the
Parrishes. She had run towards Miss Challoner as
soon as she heard her fall, and was sitting there with
the dead girl's head in her lap when the musicians
" I suppose she has been carefully questioned? "
" Very, I should say."
" And she speaks of no weapon? "
" No. Neither she nor any one else at that mo-
ment suspected murder or even a violent death. All
thought it a natural one sudden, but the result of
some secret disease."
"Father and all? "
" But the blood? Surely there must have been
some show of blood? "
" They say not. No one noticed any. Not till
the doctor came her doctor who was happily in
his office in this very building. He saw the drops,
and uttered the first suggestion of murder."
" How long after was this? Is there any one
who has ventured to make an estimate of the number
of minutes which elapsed from the time she fell,
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 37
to the moment when the doctor first raised the cry
of murder? "
" Yes. Mr. Slater, the assistant manager, who
was in the lobby at the time, says that ten minutes
at least must have elapsed."
" Ten minutes and no blood! The weapon must
still have been there. Some weapon with a short
and inconspicuous handle. I think they said there
were flowers over and around the place where it
" Yes, great big scarlet ones. Nobody noticed
nobody looked. A panic like that seems to paralyse
" Ten minutes ! I must see every one who ap-
proached her during those ten minutes. Every one,
Sweetwater, and I must myself talk with Miss
" You will like her. You will believe every word
" No doubt. All the more reason why I must
see her. Sweetwater, someone drew that weapon
out. Effects still have their causes, notwithstanding
the new cult. The question is who? We must
leave no stone unturned to find that out."
" The stones have all been turned over once."
" Not altogether by me."
" Then they will bear being turned over again. I
want to be witness of the operation."
' Where will you see Miss Clarke? "
' Wherever she pleases only I can't walk far."
" I think I know the place. You shall have the
3 8 INITIALS ONLY
.use of this elevator. It has not been running since
last night or it would be full of curious people all
the time, hustling to get a glimpse of this place. But
they'll put a man on for you."
" Very good ; manage it as you will. I'll wait here
till you're ready. Explain yourself to the lady.
Tell her I'm an old and rheumatic invalid who has
been used to asking his own questions. I'll not
trouble her much. But there is one point she must
make clear to me."
Sweetwater did not presume to ask what point,
but he hoped to be fully enlightened when the time
And he was. Mr. Gryce had undertaken to edu-
cate him for this work, and never missed the oppor-
tunity of giving him a lesson. The three met in
a private sitting-room on an upper floor, the detec-
tives entering first and the lady coming in soon after.
As her quiet figure appeared in the doorway,
Sweetwater stole a glance at Mr. Gryce. He was not
looking her way, of course ; he never looked directly
at anybody; but he formed his impressions for all
that, and Sweetwater was anxious to make sure of
these impressions. There was no doubting them in
this instance. Miss Clarke was not a woman to
rouse an unfavourable opinion in any man's mind.
Of slight, almost frail build, she had that peculiar
animation which goes with a speaking eye and a
widely sympathetic nature. Without any substantial
claims to beauty, her expression was so womanly and
so sweet that she was invariably called lovely.
Mr. Gryce was engaged at the moment in shifting
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 39
his cane from the right hand to the left, but his man-
ner was never more encouraging or his smile more
" Pardon me," he apologised, with one of his old-
fashioned bows, " I'm sorry to trouble you after all
the distress you must have been under this morning.
But there is something I wish especially to ask you
in regard to the dreadful occurrence in which you
played so kind a part. You were the first to reach
the prostrate woman, I believe."
" Yes. The boys jumped up and ran towards her,
but they were frightened by her looks and left it for
me to put my hands under her and try to lift her
" Did you manage it? "
" I succeeded in getting her head into my lap, noth-
"And sat so?"
" For some little time. That is, it seemed long,
though I believe it was not more than a minute be-
fore two men came running from the musicians' gal-
lery. One thinks so fast at such a time and feels
" You knew she was dead, then? "
" I felt her to be so."
" I was sure I never questioned it."
" You have seen women in a faint? "
" Yes, many times."
'What made the difference? Why should you
believe Miss Challoner dead simply because she lay
still and apparently lifeless?"
40 INITIALS ONLY
" I cannot tell you. Possibly, death tells its own
story. I only know how I felt."
" Perhaps there was another reason? Perhaps,
that, consciously or unconsciously, you laid your palm
upon her heart? "
Miss Clarke started, and her sweet face showed a
" Did I ? " she queried, musingly. Then with a
sudden access of feeling, " I may have done so, in-
deed, I believe I did. My arms were around her; it
would not have been an unnatural action."
" No; a very natural one, I should say. Cannot
you tell me positively whether you did this or
" Yes, I did. I had forgotten it, but I remember
now." And the glance she cast him while not meet-
ing his eye showed that she understood the impor-
tance of the admission. " I know," she said, " what
you are going to ask me now. Did I feel anything
there but the flowers and the tulle? No, Mr. Gryce,
I did not. There was no poniard in the wound."
Mr. Gryce felt around, found a chair and sank into
" You are a truthful woman," said he. " And,"
he added more slowly, " composed enough in char-
acter I should judge not to have made any mistake
on this very vital point."
" I think so, Mr. Gryce. I was in a state of ex-
citement, of course ; but the woman was a stranger to
me, and my feelings were not unduly agitated."
" Sweetwater, we can let my suggestion go in re-
gard to those ten minutes I spoke of. The time is
SWEET LITTLE MISS CLARKE 41
narrowed down to one, and in that one, Miss Clarke
was the only person to touch her."
' The only one," echoed the lady, catching pep-
haps the slight rising sound of query in his voice.
" I will trouble you no further." So said the old
detective, thoughtfully. " Sweetwater, help me out
of this." His eye was dull and his manner betrayed
exhaustion. But vigour returned to him before he
had well reached the door, and he showed some of
his old spirit as he thanked Miss Clarke and turned
to take the elevator.
" But one possibility remains," he confided to
Sweetwater, as they stood waiting at the elevator
door. " Miss Challoner died from a stab. The
next minute she was in this lady's arms. No
weapon protruded from the wound, nor was any
found on or near her in the mezzanine. What fol-
lows ? She struck the blow herself, and the strength
of purpose which led her to do this, gave her the
additional force to pull the weapon out and fling it
from her. It did not fall upon the floor around her ;
therefore, it flew through one of those openings into
the lobby, and there it either will be, or has been
It was this statement, otherwise worded, which
gave me my triumph over George.
THE RED CLOAK
"WHAT results? Speak up, Sweetwater."
" None. Every man, woman and boy connected
with the hotel has been questioned; many of them
routed out of their beds for the purpose, but not one
of them picked up anything from the floor of the
lobby, or knows of any one who did."
" There now remain the guests."
" And after them (pardon me, Mr. Gryce) the
general public which rushed in rather promiscuously
"I know it; it's a task, but it must be carried
through. Put up bulletins, publish your wants in the
papers; do anything, only gain your end."
A bulletin was put up.
Some hours later, Sweetwater re-entered the room,
and, approaching Mr. Gryce with a smile, blurted
" The bulletin is a great go. I think of course,
I cannot be sure that it's going to do the business.
I've watched every one who stopped to read it.
Many showed interest and many, emotion ; she seems
to have had a troop of friends. But embarrassment !
only one showed that. I thought you would like
"Embarrassment? Humph! a man?"
THE RED CLOAK 43
" No, a woman; a lady, sir; one of the transients.
I found out in a jiffy all they could tell me about
" A woman ! We didn't expect that. Where is
she? Still in the lobby?"
" No, sir. She took the elevator while I was talk-
ing with the clerk."
' There's nothing in it. You mistook her expres-
" I don't think so. I had noticed her when she
first came into the lobby. She was talking to her
daughter who was with her, and looked natural and
happy. But no sooner had she seen and read that
bulletin, than the blood shot up into her face and her
manner became furtive and hasty. There was no
mistaking the difference, sir. Almost before I could
point her out, she had seized her daughter by the
arm and hurried her towards the elevator. I wanted
to follow her, but you may prefer to make your own
inquiries. Her room is on the seventh floor, number
,712, and her name is Watkins. Mrs. Horace Wat-
kins of Nashville."
Mr. Gryce nodded thoughtfully, but made no im-
mediate effort to rise.
" Is that all you know about her? " he asked.
' Yes; this is the first time she has stopped at this
hotel. She came yesterday. Took a room in-
definitely. Seems all right; but she did blush, sir. I
never saw its beat in a young girl."
" Call the desk. Say that I'm to be told if Mrs.
Watkins of Nashville rings up during the next ten
44 INITIALS ONLY
minutes. We'll give her that long to take some
action. If she fails to make any move, I'll make my
Sweetwater did as he was bid, then went back to
his place in the lobby.
But he returned almost instantly.
" Mrs. Watkins has just telephoned down that she
is going to to leave, sir."
" To leave? "
The old man struggled to his feet. " No. 712, do
you say? Seven stories," he sighed. But as he
turned with a hobble, he stopped. " There are diffi-
culties in the way of this interview," he remarked.
" A blush is not much to go upon. I'm afraid we
shall have to resort to the shadow business and that
is your work, not mine."
But here the door opened and a boy brought in a
line which had been left at the desk. It related to
the very matter then engaging them, and ran thus :
" I see that information is desired as to whether any per-
son was seen to stoop to the lobby floor last night at or
shortly after the critical moment of Miss Challoner's fall
in the half story above. I can give such information. I
was in the lobby at the time, and in the height of the con-
fusion following this alarming incident, I remember seeing
a lady, one of the new arrivals (there were several coming
in at the time) stoop quickly down and pick up some-
thing from the floor. I thought nothing of it at the time,
and so paid little attention to her appearance. I can only
recall the suddenness with which she stooped and the colour
of the cloak she wore. It was red, and the whole garment
was voluminous. If you wish further particulars, though
THE RED CLOAK 45,
in truth, I have no more to give, you can find me in room
" HENRY A. MCELROY."
" Humph ! This should simplify our task," was
Mr. Gryce's comment, as he handed the note over
to Sweetwater. " You can easily find out if the lady,
now on the point of departure, can be identified with
the one described by Mr. McElroy. If she can, I
am ready to meet her anywhere."
" Here goes then ! " cried Sweetwater, and quickly
left the room.
When he returned, it was not with his most hope-
" The cloak doesn't help," he declared. " No one
remembers the cloak. But the time of Mrs. Wat-
kins' arrival was all right. She came in directly on
the heels of this catastrophe."
" She did ! Sweetwater, I will see her. Manage
it for me at once."
" The clerk says that it had better be upstairs :
She is a very sensitive woman. There might be a
scene, if she were intercepted on her way out."
" Very well." But the look which the old
detective threw at his bandaged legs was not without
And so it happened that just as Mrs. Watkins was
watching the wheeling out of her trunks, there ap-
peared in the doorway before her, an elderly gentle-
man, whose expression, always benevolent, save at
moments when benevolence would be quite out of
keeping with the situation, had for some reason, so
46 INITIALS ONLY
marked an effect upon her, that she coloured under
his eye, and, indeed, showed such embarrassment,
that all doubt of the propriety of his intrusion
vanished from the old man's mind, and with the ease
of one only too well accustomed to such scenes, he
" Am I speaking to Mrs. Watkins of Nashville? "
" You are," she faltered, with another rapid
change of colour. "I I am just leaving. I hope
you will excuse me. I "
" I wish I could," he smiled, hobbling in and con-
fronting her quietly in her own room. " But cir-
cumstances make it quite imperative that I should
have a few words with you on a topic which need not
be disagreeable to you, and probably will not be.
My name is Gryce. This will probably convey noth-
ing to you, but I am not unknown to the management
below, and my years must certainly give you confi-
dence in the propriety of my errand. A beautiful
and charming young woman died here last night.
May I ask if you knew her? "
"I?" She was trembling violently now, but
whether with indignation or some other more subtle
emotion, it would be difficult to say. " No, I'm
from the South. I never saw the young lady. Why
do you ask? I do not recognise your right. I
Certainly her emotion must be that of simple in-
dignation. Mr. Gryce made one of his low bows,
and propping himself against the table he stood be-
fore, remarked civilly :
" I had rather not force my rights. The matter
THE RED CLOAK 47
is so very ordinary. I did not suppose you knew
Miss Challoner, but one must begin somehow, and as
you came in at the very moment when the alarm
was raised in the lobby, I thought perhaps you could
tell me something which would aid me in my effort
to elicit the real facts of the case. You were cross-
ing the lobby at the time "
" Yes." She raised her head. u So were a dozen
u Madam," the interruption was made in his
kindliest tones, but in a way which nevertheless sug-
gested authority. " Something was picked up from
the floor at that moment. If the dozen you mention
were witnesses to this act we do not know it. But we
do know that it did not pass unobserved by you. Am
I not correct? Didn't you see a certain person I
will mention no names stoop and pick up some-
thing from the lobby floor? "
" No." The word came out with startling
violence. " I was conscious of nothing but the con-
fusion." She was facing him with determination
and her eyes were fixed boldly on his face. But her
lips quivered, and her cheeks were white, too white
now for simple indignation.
' Then I have made a big mistake," apologised
the ever-courteous detective. " Will you pardon
me? It would have settled a very serious question
if it could be found that the object thus picked up
was the weapon which killed Miss Challoner. That
is my excuse for the trouble I have given you."
He was not looking at her; he was looking at her
hand which rested on the table before which he him-
48 INITIALS ONLY
self stood. Did the fingers tighten a little and dig
into the palm they concealed? He thought so, and
was very slow in turning limpingly about towards the
door. Meanwhile, would she speak? No. The
silence was so marked, he felt it an excuse for stealing
another glance in her direction. She was not looking
his way but at a door in the partition wall on her
right ; and the look was one very akin to anxious fear.
The next moment he understood it. The door burst
open, and a young girl bounded into the room, with
the merry cry :
" All ready, mother. I'm glad we are going to
the Clarendon. I hate hotels where people die al-
most before your eyes."
What the mother said at this outburst is im-
material. What the detective did is not. Keeping
on his way, he reached the door, but not to open it
wider; rather to close it softly but with unmistakable
decision. The cloak which enveloped the girl was
red, and full enough to be called voluminous.
" Who is this? " demanded the girl, her indignant
glances flashing from one to the other.
" I don't know," faltered the mother in very evi-
dent distress. " He says he has a right to ask us
questions and he has been asking questions about >
" Not about me," laughed the girl, with a toss of
her head Mr. Gryce would have corrected in one of
his grandchildren. " He can have nothing to say
about me." And she began to move about the room
in an aimless, half-insolent way.
Mr. Gryce stared hard at the few remaining be-
THE RED CLOAK 49
longings of the two women, lying in a heap on the
table, and half musingly, half deprecatingly, re-
" The person who stooped wore a long red cloak.
Probably you preceded your daughter, Mrs. Wat-
The lady thus brought to the point made a quick
gesture towards the girl who suddenly stood still, and,
with a rising colour in her cheeks, answered, with
some show of resolution on her own part:
" You say your name is Gryce and that you have a
right to address me thus pointedly on a subject
which you evidently regard as serious. That is not
exact enough for me. Who are you, sir? What is
your business? "
" I think you have guessed it. I am a detective
from Headquarters. What I want of you I have al-
ready stated. Perhaps this young lady can tell me
what you cannot. I shall be pleased if this is so."
"Caroline" Then the mother broke down.
" Show the gentleman what you picked up from the
lobby floor last night."
The girl laughed again, loudly and with evident
bravado, before she threw the cloak back and showed
what she had evidently been holding in her hand from
the first, a sharp-pointed, gold-handled paper-cutter.
" It was lying there and I picked it up. I don't
see any harm in that."
' You probably meant none. You couldn't have
known the part it had just played in this tragic
drama," said the old detective looking carefully at
the cutter which he had taken in his hand, but not so
5 o INITIALS ONLY
carefully that he failed to note that the look of dis-
tress was not lifted from the mother's face either by
her daughter's words or manner.
" You have washed this? " he asked.
"No. Why should I wash it? It was clean
enough. I was just going down to give it in at the
desk. I wasn't going to carry it away." And she
turned aside to the window and began to hum, as
though done with the whole matter.
The old detective rubbed his chin, glanced again at
the paper-cutter, then at the girl in the window, and
lastly at the mother, who had lifted her head again
and was facing him bravely.
" It is very important," he observed to the latter,
" that your daughter should be correct in her state-
ment as to the condition of this article when she
picked it up. Are you sure she did not wash it? "
" I don't think she did. But I'm sure she will tell
you the truth about that. Caroline, this is a police
matter. Any mistake about it may involve us in a
world of trouble and keep you from getting back
home in time for your coming-out party. Did you
did you wash this cutter when you got upstairs,
or or " she added, with a propitiatory glance
at Mr. Gryce " wipe it off at any time between
then and now? Don't answer hastily. Be sure.
No one can blame you for that act. Any girl, as
thoughtless as you, might do that."
"Mother, how can I tell what I did?" flashed
out the girl, wheeling round on her heel till she faced
them both. " I don't remember doing a thing to it.
I just brought it up. A thing found like that belongs
THE RED CLOAK 51
to the finder. You needn't hold it out towards me
like that. I don't want it now ; I'm sick of it. Such
a lot of talk about a paltry thing which couldn't have
cost ten dollars." And she wheeled back.
" It isn't the value." Mr. Gryce could be very
patient. " It's the fact that we believe it to have
been answerable for Miss Challoner's death that
is, if there was any blood on it when you picked it
" Blood! " The girl was facing them again, as-
tonishment struggling with disgust on her plain but
mobile features. " Blood! is that what you mean?
No wonder I hate it. Take it away," she cried.
" Oh, mother, I'll never pick up anything again which
doesn't belong to me ! Blood ! " she repeated in hor-
ror, flinging herself into her mother's arms.
Mr. Gryce thought he understood the situation.
Here was a little kleptomaniac whose weakness the
mother was struggling to hide. Light was pouring
in. He felt his body's weight less on that miserable
foot of his.
" Does that frighten you ? Are you so affected by
the thought of blood? "
" Don't ask me. And I put the thing under my
pillow ! I thought it was so so pretty."
" Mrs. Watkins," Mr. Gryce from that moment
ignored the daughter, " did you see it there? "
" Yes; but I didn't know where it came from. I
had not seen my daughter stoop. I didn't know
where she got it till I read that bulletin."
" Never mind that. The question agitating me
is whether any stain was left under that pillow. We
52 INITIALS ONLY
want to be sure of the connection between this pos-
sible weapon and the death by stabbing which we all
deplore if there is a connection."
" I didn't see any stain, but you can look for your-
self. The bed has been made up, but there was no
change of linen. We expected to remain here; I see
no good to be gained by hiding any of the facts now."
" None whatever, Madam."
" Come, then. Caroline, sit down and stop cry-
ing. Mr. Gryce believes that your only fault was
in not taking this object at once to the desk."
" Yes, that's all," acquiesced the detective after a
short study of the shaking figure and distorted fea-
tures of the girl. " You had no idea, I'm sure,
where this weapon came from or for what it had
been used. That's evident."
Her shudder, as she seated herself, was very con-
vincing. She was too young to simulate so success-
fully emotions of this character.
" I'm glad of that," she responded, half fretfully,
half gratefully, as Mr. Gryce followed her mother
into the adjoining room. " I've had a bad enough
time of it without being blamed for what I didn't
know and didn't do."
Mr. Gryce laid little stress upon these words, but
much upon the lack of curiosity she showed in the
minute and careful examination he now made of her
room. There was no stain on the pillow-cover and
none on the bureau-spread where she might very
naturally have laid the cutter down on first coming
into her room. The blade was so polished that it
must have been rubbed off somewhere, either pur-
THE RED CLOAK 53
posely or by accident. Where then, since not here?
He asked to see her gloves the ones she had worn
the previous night.
" They are the same she is wearing now," the anx-
ious mother assured him. ' Wait, and I will get
them for you."
" No need. Let her hold out her hands in token
of amity. I shall soon see."
They returned to where the girl still sat, wrapped
in her cloak, sobbing still, but not so violently.
" Caroline, you may take off your things," said
the mother, drawing the pins from her own hat.
" We shall not go to-day."
The child shot her mother one disappointed look,
then proceeded to follow suit. When her hat was
off, she began to take off her gloves. As soon as
they were on the table, the mother pushed them over
to Mr. Gryce. As he looked at them, the girl lifted
off her cloak.
"Will will he tell?" she whispered behind its
ample folds into her mother's ear.
The answer came quickly, but not in the mother's
tones. Mr. Gryce's ears had lost none of their an-
" I do not see that I should gain much by doing
so. The one discovery which would link this find of
yours indissolubly with Miss Challoner's death, I
have failed to make. If I am equally unsuccessful
below if I can establish no closer connection there
than here between this cutter and the weapon which
killed Miss Challoner, I shall have no cause to men-
tion the matter. It will be too extraneous to the
54 INITIALS ONLY
case. Do you remember the exact spot where you
stooped, Miss Watkins? "
"No, no. Somewhere near those big chairs; I
didn't have to step out of my way ; I really didn't."
Mr. Gryce's answering smile was a study. It
seemed to convey a two-fold message, one for the
mother and one for the child, and both were com-
forting. But he went away, disappointed. The
clew which promised so much was, to all appearance,
a false one.
He could soon tell.
MR. GRYCE'S fears were only too well founded.
Though Mr. McElroy was kind enough to point out
the exact spot where he saw Miss Watkins stoop,
no trace of blood was found upon the rug which
had lain there, nor had anything of the kind been
washed up by the very careful man who scrubbed
the lobby floor in the early morning. This was dis-
appointing, as its presence would have settled the
whole question. When, these efforts all exhausted,
the two detectives faced each other again in the small
room given up to their use, Mr. Gryce showed his dis-
couragement. To be certain of a fact you cannot
prove has not the same alluring quality for the old
that it has for the young. Sweetwater watched him
in some concern, then with the persistence which
was one of his strong points, ventured finally to re-
" I have but one idea left on the subject."
" And what is that? " Old as he was, Mr. Gryce
was alert in a moment.
" The girl wore a red cloak. If I mistake not,
the lining was also red. A spot on it might not
show to the casual observer. Yet it would mean
much to us."
" Sweetwater! "
A faint blush rose to the old man's cheek.
5 6 INITIALS ONLY
" Shall I request the privilege of looking that
-garment over? "
The young fellow ducked and left the room.
When he returned, it was with a downcast air.
" Nothing doing," said he.
And then there was silence.
" We only need to find out now that this cutter
was not even Miss Challoner's property," remarked
Mr. Gryce, at last, with a gesture towards the object
named lying openly on the table before him.
" That should be easy. Shall I take it to their
rooms and show it to her maid? "
" If you can do so without disturbing the old gen-
But here they were themselves disturbed. A
knock at the door was followed by the immediate
entrance of the very person just mentioned. Mr.
Challoner had come in search of the inspector, and
showed some surprise to find his place occupied by
an unknown old man.
But Mr. Gryce, who discerned tidings in the be-
reaved father's face, was all alacrity in an instant.
Greeting his visitor with a smile which few could see
without trusting the man, he explained the inspec-
tor's absence and introduced himself in his own ca-
Mr. Challoner had heard of him. Nevertheless,
he did not seem inclined to speak.
Mr. Gryce motioned Sweetwater from the room.
With a woeful look the young detective withdrew,
his last glance cast at the cutter still lying in full view
on the table.
Mr. Gryce, not unmindful himself of this object,
took it up, then laid it down again, with an air of
The father's attention was caught.
"What is that?" he cried, advancing a step and
bestowing more than an ordinary glance at the ob-
ject thus brought casually, as it were, to his notice.
" I surely recognise this cutter. Does it belong here
Mr. Gryce, observing the other's emotion, mo-
tioned him to a chair. As his visitor sank into it, he
remarked, with all the consideration exacted by the
" It is unknown property, Mr. Challoner. But
we have some reason to think it belonged to your
daughter. Are we correct in this surmise? "
" I have seen it, or one like it, often in her hand."
Here his eyes suddenly dilated and the hand
stretched forth to grasp it quickly drew back.
'Where where was it found?" he hoarsely de-
manded. " O God! am I to be crushed to the very
earth by sorrow ! "
Mr. Gryce hastened to give him such relief as was
consistent with the truth.
" It was picked up last night from the lobby
floor. There is seemingly nothing to connect it with
her death. Yet"
The pause was eloquent. Mr. Challoner gave the
detective an agonised look and turned white to the
5 8 INITIALS ONLY
lips. Then gradually, as the silence continued, his
head fell forward, and he muttered almost unintel-
" I honestly believe her the victim of some heart-
less stranger. I do now; but but I cannot mis-
lead the police. At any cost I must retract a state-
ment I made under false impressions and with no
desire to deceive. I said that I knew all of the gentle-
men who admired her and aspired to her hand, and
that they were all reputable men and above commit-
ting a crime of this or any other kind. But it seems
that I did not know her secret heart as thoroughly as
I had supposed. Among her effects I have just come
upon a batch of letters love letters I am forced to
acknowledge signed by initials totally strange to
me. The letters are manly in tone most of them
but one "
" What about the one? "
" Shows that the writer was displeased. It may
mean nothing, but I could not let the matter go with-
out setting myself right with the authorities. If it
might be allowed to rest here if those letters can
remain sacred, it would save me the additional pang
of seeing her inmost concerns the secret and
holiest recesses of a woman's heart, laid open to the
public. For, from the tenor of most of these letters,
she she was not averse to the writer."
Mr. Gryce moved a little restlessly in his chair and
stared hard at the cutter so conveniently placed un-
der his eye. Then his manner softened and he re-
'' We will do what we can. But you must under-
stand that the matter is not a simple one. That, in
fact, it contains mysteries which demand police in-
vestigation. We do not dare to trifle with any of
the facts. The inspector, and, if not he, the coroner,
will have to be told about these letters and will prob-
ably ask to see them."
' They are the letters of a gentleman."
" With the one exception."
' Yes, that is understood." Then in a sudden
heat and with an almost sublime trust in his daugh-
ter notwithstanding tRe duplicity he had just discov-
ered : " Nothing not the story told by these letters,
or the sight of that sturdy paper-cutter with its long
and very slender blade, will make me believe that she
willingly took her own life. You do not know, can-
not know, the rare delicacy of her nature. She was
a lady through and through. If she had meditated
death if the breach suggested by the one letter I
have mentioned, should have so preyed upon her
spirits as to lead her to break her old father's heart
and outrage the feelings of all who knew her, she
could not, being the woman she was, choose a public
place for such an act an hotel writing-room in
face of a lobby full of hurrying men. It was out of
nature. Every one who knows her will tell you so.
The deed was an accident incredible but still
Mr. Gryce had respect for this outburst. Mak-
ing no attempt to answer it, he suggested, with some
hesitation, that Miss Challoner had been seen writing
a letter previous to taking those fatal steps from the
desk which ended so tragically. Was this letter to
6o INITIALS ONLY
one of her lady friends, as reported, and was it as far
from suggesting the awful tragedy which followed,
as he had been told?
" It was a cheerful letter. Such a one as she often
wrote to her little protegees here and there. I judge
that this was written to some girl like that, for the
person addressed was not known to her maid, any
more than she was to me. It expressed an affec-
tionate interest, and it breathed encouragement
encouragement! and she meditating her own death at
the moment! Impossible! That letter should ex-
onerate her if nothing else does."
Mr. Gryce recalled the incongruities, the incon-
sistencies and even the surprising contradictions which
had often marked the conduct of men and women,
in his lengthy experience with the strange, the sudden,
and the tragic things of life, and slightly shook his
head. He pitied Mr. Challoner, and admired even
more his courage in face of the appalling grief which
had overwhelmed him, but he dared not encourage a
false hope. The girl had killed herself and with this
weapon. They might not be able to prove it abso-
lutely, but it was nevertheless true, and this broken
old man would some day be obliged to acknowledge
it. But the detective said nothing of this, and was
very patient with the further arguments the other
advanced to prove his point and the lofty character
of the girl to whom, misled by appearance, the police
seemed inclined to attribute the awful sin of self-de-
But when, this topic exhausted, Mr. Challoner
rose to leave the room, Mr. Gryce showed where his
own thoughts still centred, by asking him the date
of the correspondence discovered between his daughter
and her unknown admirer.
" Some of the letters were dated last summer,
some this fall. The one you are most anxious to hear
about only a month back," he added, with uncon-
querable devotion to what he considered his duty.
Mr. Gryce would like to have carried his inquiries
further, but desisted. His heart was full of compas-
sion for this childless old man, doomed to have his
choicest memories disturbed by cruel doubts which
possibly would never be removed to his own com-
But when he was gone, and Sweetwater had re-
turned, Mr. Gryce made it his first duty to communi-
cate to his superiors the hitherto unsuspected fact of
a secret romance in Miss Challoner's seemingly calm
and well-guarded life. She had loved and been
loved by one of whom her family knew nothing.
And the two had quarrelled, as certain letters lately
found could be made to show.
BEFORE a table strewn with papers, in the room we
have already mentioned as given over to the use of
the police, sat Dr. Heath in a mood too thoughtful to
notice the entrance of Mr. Gryce and Sweetwater
from the dining-room where they had been having
However as the former's tread was somewhat lum-
bering, the coroner's attention was caught before
they had quite crossed the room, and Sweetwater,
with his quick eye, noted how his arm and hand im-
mediately fell so as to cover up a portion of the pa-
pers lying nearest to him.
' Well, Gryce, this is a dark case," he observed,
as at his bidding the two detectives took their seats.
Mr. Gryce nodded; so did Sweetwater.
' The darkest that has ever come to my knowl-
edge," pursued the coroner.
Mr. Gryce again nodded; but not so, Sweetwater.
For some reason this simple expression of opinion
seemed to have given him a mental start.
" She was not shot. She was not struck by any
other hand; yet she lies dead from a mortal wound
in the breast. Though there is no tangible proof
of her having inflicted this wound upon herself, the
jury will have no alternative, I fear, than to pro-
nounce the case one of suicide."
THE LETTERS 63
" I'm sorry that I've been able to do so little," re-
marked Mr. Gryce.
The coroner darted him a quick look.
" You are not satisfied? You have some different
idea? " he asked.
The detective frowned at his hands crossed over
the top of his cane, then shaking his head, replied :
" The verdict you mention is the only natural one,
of course. I see that you have been talking with
Miss Challoner's former maid?"
" Yes, and she has settled an important point for
us. There was a possibility, of course, that the pa-
per-cutter which you brought to my notice had never
gone with her into the mezzanine. That she, or
some other person, had dropped it in passing through
the lobby. But this girl assures me that her mis-
tress did not enter the lobby that night. That she
accompanied her down in the elevator, and saw her
step off at the mezzanine. She can also swear that
the cutter was in a book she carried the book we
found lying on the desk. The girl remembers dis-
tinctly seeing its peculiarly chased handle projecting
from its pages. Could anything be more satisfac-
tory if I was going to say, if the young lady had
been of the impulsive type and the provocation
greater. But Miss Challoner's nature was calm,
and were it not for these letters " here his arm
shifted a little "I should not be so sure of my
jury's future verdict. Love " he went on, after a
moment of silent consideration of a letter he had
chosen from those before him, " disturbs the most
equable natures. When it enters as a factor, we can
64 INITIALS ONLY
expect anything as you know. And Miss Chal-
loner evidently was much attached to her correspon-
dent, and naturally felt the reproach conveyed in
And Dr. Heath read:
" Dear Miss Challoner:
" Only a man of small spirit could endure what I endured
from you the other day. Love such as mine would be re-
spectable in a clod-hopper, and I think that even you will
acknowledge that I stand somewhat higher than that.
Though I was silent under your disapprobation, you shall
yet have your answer. It will not lack point because of its
The words sprang from Sweetwater, and were
evidently involuntary. Dr. Heath paid no notice,
but Mr. Gryce, in shifting his hands on his cane top,
gave them a sidelong look which was not without a
bint of fresh interest in a case concerning which he
had believed himself to have said his last word.
" It is the only letter of them all which conveys
anything like a reproach," proceeded the coroner.
' The rest are ardent enough and, I must acknowl-
edge that, so far as I have allowed myself to look
into them, sufficiently respectful. Her surprise
must consequently have been great at receiving these
lines, and her resentment equally so. If the two
met afterwards But I have not shown you the
signature. To the poor father it conveyed nothing
some facts have been kept from him but to
us " here he whirled the letter about so that
THE LETTERS 65
Sweetwater, at least, could see the name, " it con-
veys a hope that we may yet understand Miss
" Brotherson ! " exclaimed the young detective in
loud surprise. " Brotherson I The man who "
" The man who left this building just before or
simultaneously with the alarm caused by Miss Chal-
loner's fall. It clears away some of the clouds be-
fogging us. She probably caught sight of him in the
lobby, and in the passion of the moment forgot her
usual instincts and drove the sharp-pointed weapon
into her heart."
" Brotherson ! " The word came softly now, and
with a thoughtful intonation. " He saw her die."
" Why do you say that? "
" Would he have washed his hands in the snow
if he had been in ignorance of the occurrence? He
was the real, if not active, cause of her death and he
knew it. Either he Excuse me, Dr. Heath and
Mr. Gryce, it is not for me to obtrude my opinion."
" Have you settled it beyond dispute that Brother-
son is really the man who was seen doing this? "
" No, sir. I have not had a minute for that job,
but I'm ready for the business any time you see fit
to spare me."
" Let it be to-morrow, or, if you can manage it,
to-night. We want the man even if he is not the
hero of that romantic episode. He wrote these let-
ters, and he must explain the last one. His initials,
as you see, are not ordinary ones, and you will find
them at the bottom of all these sheets. He was
brave enough or arrogant enough to sign the ques-
66 INITIALS ONLY
tionable one with his full name. This may speak
well for him, and it may not. It is for you to decide
that. Where will you look for him, Sweetwater?
No one here knows his address."
" Not Miss Challoner's maid? "
"No; the name is a new one to her. But she
made it very evident that she was not surprised to
hear that her mistress was in secret correspondence
with a member of the male sex. Much can be hid-
den from servants, but not that."
"I'll find the man; I have a double reason for
doing that now; he shall not escape me."
Dr. Heath expressed his satisfaction, and gave
some orders. Meanwhile, Mr. Gryce had not ut-
tered a word.
STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE
THAT evening George sat so long over the news-
papers that in spite of my absorbing interest in the
topic engrossing me, I fell asleep in my cozy little
rocking chair. I was awakened by what seemed
like a kiss falling very softly on my forehead, though,
to be sure, it may have been only the flap of George's
coat sleeve as he stooped over me.
" Wake up, k little woman," I heard, " and trot
away to bed. I'm going out and may not be in till
' You I going out ! at ten o'clock at night, tired as
you are as we both are ! What has happened Oh ! "
This broken exclamation escaped me as I per-
ceived in the- dim background by the sitting-room
door, the figure of a man who called up recent, but
very thrilling experiences.
" Mr. Sweetwater," explained George. " We are
going out together. It is necessary, or you may be
sure I should not leave you."
I was quite wide awake enough by now to under-
stand. " Oh, I know. You are going to hunt up
the man. How I wish "
But George did not wait for me to express my
wishes. He gave me a little good advice as to how
I had better employ my time in his absence, and
was off before I could find words to answer.
68 INITIALS ONLY
This ends all I have to say about myself; but the
events of that night carefully related to me by
George are important enough for me to describe
them, with all the detail which is their rightful due.
I shall tell the story as I have already been led to
do in other portions of this narrative, as though I
were present and shared the adventure.
As soon as the two were in the street, the detective
turned towards George and said :
" Mr. Anderson, I have a great deal to ask of you.
The business before us is not a simple one, and I
fear that I shall have to subject you to more incon-
venience than is customary in matters like this. Mr.
Brotherson has vanished; that is, in his own proper
person, but I have an idea that I am on the track of
one who will lead us very directly to him if we man-
age the affair carefully. What I want of you, of
course, is mere identification. You saw the face of
the man who washed his hands in the snow, and
would know it again, you say. Do you think you
could be quite sure of yourself, if the man were dif-
ferently dressed and differently occupied? "
" I think so. There's his height and a certain
strong look in his face. I cannot describe it."
' You don't need to. Come ! we're all right.
You don't mind making a night of it? "
" Not if it is necessary."
' That we can't tell yet" And with a character-
istic shrug and smile, the detective led the way to a
taxicab which stood in waiting at the corner.
A quarter of an hour of rather fast riding brought
them into a tangle of streets on the East side. As
STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE 69
George noticed the swarming sidewalks and listened
to the noises incident to an over-populated quarter,
he could not forbear, despite the injunction he had
received, to express his surprise at the direction of
" Surely," said he, " the gentleman I have de-
scribed can have no friends here." Then, bethink-
ing himself, he added: " But if he has reasons to fear
the law, naturally he would seek to lose himself in a
place as different as possible from his usual haunts."
" Yes, that would be some men's way," was the
curt, almost indifferent, answer he received. Sweet-
water was looking this way and that from the window
beside him, and now, leaning out gave some direc-
tions to the driver which altered their course.
When they stopped, which was in a few minutes,
he said to George:
" We shall have to walk now for a block or two.
I'm anxious to attract no attention, nor is it desir-
able for you to do so. If you can manage to act as
if you were accustomed to the place and just leave
all the talking to me, we ought to get along first-rate.
Don't be astonished at anything you see, and trust
me for the rest; that's all."
They alighted, and he dismissed the taxicab. Some
clock in the neighbourhood struck the hour of ten.
"Good! we shall be in time," muttered the de-
tective, and led the way down the street and round
a corner or so, till they came to a block darker than
the rest, and much less noisy.
It had a sinister look, and George, who is brave
enough under all ordinary circumstances, was glad
7 o INITIALS ONLY
that his companion wore a badge and carried a whis-
tle. He was also relieved when he caught sight of
the burly form of a policeman in the shadow of one
of the doorways. Yet the houses he saw before him
were not so very different from those they had al-
ready passed. His uneasiness could not have sprung
from them. They had even an air of positive re-
spectability, as though inhabited by industrious work-
men. Then, what was it which made the close com-
panionship of a member of the police so uncommonly
welcome? Was it a certain aspect of solitariness
which clung to the block, or was it the sudden ap-
pearance here and there of strangely gliding figures,
which no sooner loomed up against the snowy per-
spective, than they disappeared again in some unseen
' There's a meeting on to-night, of the Associated
Brotherhood of the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel
(whatever that means) , and it is the speaker we want
to see ; the man who is to address them promptly at
ten o'clock. Do you object to meetings? "
" Is this a secret one? "
" It wasn't advertised."
" Are we carpenters or masons that we can count
on admittance? "
" I am a carpenter. Don't you think you can be a
mason for the occasion? "
"I doubt it, but "
" Hush ! I must speak to this man."
George stood back, and a few words passed be-
tween Sweetwater and a shadowy figure which,
seemed to have sprung up out of the sidewalk.
STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE 71
" Balked at the outset," were the encouraging
words with which the detective rejoined George.
" It seems that a pass-word is necessary, and my
friend has been unable to get it. Will the speaker
pass out this way?" he inquired of the shadowy
figure still lingering in their rear.
" He didn't go in by it; yet I believe he's safe
enough inside," was the muttered answer.
Sweetwater had no relish for disappointments of
this character, but it was not long before he straight-
ened up and allowed himself to exchange a few more
words with this mysterious person. These appeared
to be of a more encouraging nature than the last, for
it was not long before the detective returned with re-
newed alacrity to George, and, wheeling him about,
began to retrace his steps to the corner.
" Are we going back? Are you going to give up
the job? " George asked.
"No; we're going to take him from the rear.
There's a break in the fence Oh, we'll do very
well. Trust me."
George laughed. He was growing excited, but
not altogether agreeably so. He says that he has
seen moments of more pleasant anticipation. Evi-
dently, my good husband is not cut out for detective
Where they went under this officer's guidance, he
cannot tell. The tortuous tangle of alleys through
which he now felt himself led was dark as the nether
regions to his unaccustomed eyes. There was snow
under his feet and now and then he brushed against
some obtruding object, or stumbled against a low
7 2 INITIALS ONLY
fence; but beyond these slight miscalculations on his
own part, he was a mere automaton in the hands of
his eager guide, and only became his own man again
when they suddenly stepped into an open yard and
he could discern plainly before him the dark walls
of a building pointed out by Sweetwater as their
probable destination. Yet even here they encoun-
tered some impediment which prohibited a close ap-
proach. A wall or shed cut off their view of the
building's lower storey; and though somewhat startled
at being left unceremoniously alone after just a
whispered word of encouragement from the ever
ready detective, George could quite understand the'
necessity which that person must feel for a quiet re-
connoitring of the surroundings before the two of
them ventured further forward in their possibly
hazardous undertaking. Yet the experience was
none too pleasing to George, and he was very glad to
hear Sweetwater's whisper again at his ear, and to
feel himself rescued from the pool of slush in which
he had been left to stand.
' The approach is not all that can be desired," re-
marked the detective as they entered what appeared
to be a low shed. " The broken board has been put
back and securely nailed in place, and if I am not
very much mistaken there is a fellow stationed in the
yard who will want the pass-word too. Looks shady
to me. I'll have something to tell the chief when I
" But we ! What are we going to do if we can-
not get in front or rear ? "
' We're going to wait right here in the hopes of
STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE 73
catching a glimpse of our man as he comes out," re-
turned the detective, drawing George towards a low
window overlooking the yard he had described as
sentinelled. " He will have to pass directly under
this window on his way to the alley," Sweetwater
went on to explain, " and if I can only raise it but
the noise would give us away. I can't do that."
" Perhaps it swings on hinges," suggested George.
" It looks like that sort of a window."
"If it should well! it does. We're in great
luck, sir. But before I pull it open, remember that
from the moment I unlatch it, everything said or
done here can be heard in the adjoining yard. So no
whispers and no unnecessary movements. When you
hear him coming, as sooner or later you certainly
will, fall carefully to your knees and lean out just
far enough to catch a glimpse of him before he steps
down from the porch. If he stops to light his cigar
or to pass a few words with some of the men he will
leave behind, you may get a plain enough view of his
face or figure to identify him. The light is burning
low in that rear hall, but it will do. If it does not,
if you can't see him or if you do, don't hang out of
the window more than a second. Duck after your
first look. I don't want to be caught at this job
with no better opportunity for escape than we have
here. Can you remember all that? "
George pinched his arm encouragingly, and Sweet-
water, with an amused grunt, softly unlatched the
window and pulled it wide open.
A fine sleet flew in, imperceptible save for the sen-
sation of damp it gave, and the slight haze it dif-
74 INITIALS ONLY
fused through the air. Enlarged by this haze, the
building they were set to watch rose in magnified
proportions at their left. The yard between, piled
high in the centre with snow-heaps or other heaps
covered with snow, could not have been more than
forty feet square. The window from which they
peered, was half-way down this yard, so that a com-
paratively short distance separated them from the
porch where George had been told to look for the
man he was expected to identify. All was dark there
at present, but he could hear from time to time some
sounds of restless movement, as the guard posted in-
side shifted in his narrow quarters, or struck his be-
numbed feet softly together.
But what came to them from above was more in-
teresting than anything to be heard or seen below.
A man's voice, raised to a wonderful pitch by the
passion of oratory, had burst the barriers of the
closed hall in that towering third storey and was car-
rying its tale to other ears than those within. Had
it been summer and the windows open, both George
and Sweetwater might have heard every word; for
the tones were exceptionally rich and penetrating,
and the speaker intent only on the impression he was
endeavouring to make upon his audience. That he
had not mistaken his power in this direction was
evinced by the applause which rose from time to time
from innumerable hands and feet. But this uproar
would be speedily silenced, and the mellow voice ring
out again, clear and commanding. What could the
subject be to rouse such enthusiasm in the Associated
Brotherhood of the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel?
STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE 75
There was a moment when our listening friends ex-
pected to be enlightened. A shutter was thrown
back in one of those upper windows, and the window
hurriedly raised, during which words took the place
of sounds and they heard enough to whet their ap-
petite for more. But only that. The shutter was
speedily restored to place, and the window again
closed. A wise precaution, or so thought George if
they wished to keep their doubtful proceedings secret.
A tirade against the rich and a loud call to battle
could be gleaned from the few sentences they had
heard. But its virulence and pointed attack was
not that of the second-rate demagogue or business
agent, but of a man whose intellect and culture rang
in every tone, and informed each sentence.
Sweetwater, in whom satisfaction was fast taking
the place of impatience and regret, pushed the win-
dow to before asking George this question :
" Did you hear the voice of the man whose action
attracted your attention outside the Clermont? "
" Did you note just now the large shadow dan-
cing on the ceiling over the speaker's head? "
" Yes, but I could judge nothing from that."
" Well, he's a rum one. I shan't open this win-
dow again till he gives signs of reaching the end of
his speech. It's too cold."
But almost immediately he gave a start and,
pressing George's arm, appeared to listen, not to the
speech which was no longer audible, but to something
much nearer a step or movement in the adjoin-
ing yard. At least, so George interpreted the quick
7 6 INITIALS ONLY
turn which this impetuous detective made, and the
pains he took to direct George's attention to the walk
running under the window beneath which they
crouched. Someone was stealing down upon the
house at their left, from the alley beyond. A big
man, whose shoulder brushed the window as he went
by. George felt his hand seized again and pressed
as this happened, and before he had recovered from
this excitement, experienced another quick pressure
and still another as one, two, three additional figures
went slipping by. Then his hand was suddenly
dropped, for a cry had shot up from the door where
the sentinel stood guard, followed by a sudden loud
slam, and the noise of a shooting bolt, which, pro-
claiming as it did that the invaders were not friends
but enemies to the cause which was being vaunted
above, so excited Sweetwater that he pulled the win-
dow wide open and took a bold look out. George
followed his example and this was what they saw :
Three men were standing flat against the fence
leading from the shed directly to the porch. The
fourth was crouching within the latter, and in an-
other moment they heard his fist descend upon the
door inside in a way to rouse the echoes. Mean-
time, the voice in the audience hall above had ceased,
and there could be heard instead the scramble of
hurrying feet and the noise of overturning
benches. Then a window flew up and a voice called
; ' Who's that? What do you want down there? "
But before an answer could be shouted back, this
man was drawn fiercely inside, and the scramble was
renewed, amid which George heard Sweetwater's
whisper at his ear:
" It's the police. The chief has got ahead of me.
Was that the man we're after the one who
shouted down? "
" No. Neither was he the speaker. The voices
are very different."
" We want the speaker. If the boys get him,
we're all right; but if they don't wait, I must
make the matter sure."
And with a bound he vaulted through the win-
dow, whistling in a peculiar way. George, thus left
quite alone, had the pleasure of seeing his sole pro-
tector mix with the boys, as he called them, and ul-
timately crowd in with them through the door which
had finally been opened for their admittance. Then
came a wait, and then the quiet re-appearance of the
detective alone and in no very amiable mood.
"Well?" inquired George, somewhat breath-
lessly. " Do you want me? They don't seem to
be coming out."
" No; they've gone the other way. It was a red
hot anarchist meeting, and no mistake. They have
arrested one of the speakers, but the other escaped.
How, we have not yet found out; but I think there's
a way out somewhere by which he got the start of
us. He was the man I wanted you to see. Bad
luck, Mr. Anderson, but I'm not at the end of my
resources. If you'll have patience with me and ac-
company me a little further, I promise you that I'll
only risk one more failure. Will you be so good,
THE INCIDENT OF THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE
THE fellow had a way with him, hard to resist.
Cold as George was and exhausted by an excitement
of a kind to which he was wholly unaccustomed, he
found himself acceding to the detective's request;
and after a quick lunch and a huge cup of coffee in a
restaurant which I wish I had time to describe, the two
took a car which eventually brought them into one
of the oldest quarters of the Borough of Brooklyn.
The sleet which had stung their faces in the streets
of New York had been left behind them somewhere
on the bridge, but the chill was not gone from the
air, and George felt greatly relieved when Sweetwater
paused in the middle of a long block before a lofty
tenement house of mean appearance, and signified
that here they were to stop, and that from now on,
mum was to be their watchword.
George was relieved I say, but he was also more as-
tonished than ever. What kind of haunts were these
for the cultured gentleman who spent his evenings at
the Clermont? It was easy enough in these days of
extravagant sympathies, to understand such a man
addressing the uneasy spirits of lower New York
he had been called an enthusiast, and an enthusiast
is very often a social agitator but to trace him
afterwards to a place like this was certainly a sur-
THE PARTLY LIFTED. SHADE 79
prise. A tenement such a tenement as this
meant home home for himself or for those he
counted his friends, and such a supposition seemed
inconceivable to my poor husband, with the memory
of the gorgeous parlours of the Clermont in his
mind. Indeed, he hinted something of the kind to
his affable but strangely reticent companion, but all
the answer he got was a peculiar smile whose hu-
morous twist he could barely discern in the semi-
darkness of the open doorway into which they had
" An adventure ! certainly an adventure ! " flashed
through poor George's mind, as he peered, in great
curiosity down the long hall before him, into a dis-
mal rear, opening into a still more dismal court. It
was truly a novel experience for a business man
whose philanthropy was carried on entirely by
proxy that is, by his wife. Should he be expected
to penetrate into those dark, ill-smelling recesses, or
would he be led up the long flights of naked stairs,
so feebly illuminated that they gave the impression of
extending indefinitely into dimmer and dimmer
heights of decay and desolation?
Sweetwater seemed to decide for the rear, for
leaving George, he stepped down the hall into the
court beyond, where George could see him casting
inquiring glances up at the walls above him. An-
other tenement, similar to the one whose rear end
he was contemplating, towered behind but he paid
no attention to that. He was satisfied with the look
he had given and came quickly back, joining George
80 INITIALS ONLY
at the foot of the staircase, up which he silently led
It was a rude, none-to-well-cared-for building, but
it seemed respectable enough and very quiet, consid-
ering the mass of people it accommodated. There
were marks of poverty everywhere, but no squalor.
One flight two flights three and then
George's guide stopped, and, looking back at him,
made a gesture. It appeared to be one of caution,
but when the two came together at the top of the
staircase, Sweetwater spoke quite naturally as he
pointed out a door in their rear :
" That's the room. We'll keep a sharp watch
and when any man, no matter what his dress or ap-
pearance comes up these stairs and turns that way,
give him a sharp look. You understand? "
" Oh, he hasn't come in yet. I took pains to find
that out. You saw me go into the court and look
up. That was to see if his window was lighted.
Well, it wasn't."
George felt non-plussed.
" But surely," said he, " the gentleman named
Brotherson doesn't live here."
" The inventor does."
" And but I will explain later."
The suppressed excitement contained in these
words made George stare. Indeed, he had been
wondering for some time at the manner of the de-
tective which showed a curious mixture of several
opposing emotions. Now, the fellow was actually
THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE 81
in a tremble of hope or impatience; and, not con-
tent with listening, he peered every few minutes down
the well of the staircase, and when he was not doing
that, tramped from end to end of the narrow pas-
sage-way separating the head of the stairs from the
door he had pointed out, like one to whom minutes
were hours. All this time he seemed to forget
George who certainly had as much reason as himself
for finding the time long. But when, after some
half hour of this tedium and suspense, there rose
from below the faint clatter of ascending footsteps,
he remembered his meek companion and beckoning
him to one side, began a studied conversation with
him, showing him a note-book in which he had writ-
ten such phrases as these :
Don't look up till he is fairly in range with the light.
There's nothing to fear; he doesn't know either of us.
If it is a face you have seen before; if it is the one we
are expecting to see, pull your necktie straight. It's a little
on one side.
These rather startling injunctions were read by
George, with no very perceptible diminution of the
uneasiness which it was only natural for him to feel
at the oddity of his position. But only the demand
last made produced any impression on him. The
man they were waiting for was no further up than
the second floor, but instinctively George's hand had
flown to his necktie, and he was only stopped from
its premature re-arrangement by a warning look from
82 INITIALS ONLY
" Not unless you know him," whispered the de-
tective; and immediately launched out into an easy
talk about some totally different business which
George neither understood, nor was expected to, I
Suddenly the steps below paused, and George
heard Sweetwater draw in his breath in irrepressible
dismay. But they were immediately resumed, and
presently the head and shoulders of a workingman
of uncommon proportions appeared in sight on the
George cast him a keen look, and his hand rose
doubtfully to his neck and then fell back again. The
approaching man was tall, very well-proportioned
and easy of carriage; but the face such of it as
could be seen between his cap and the high collar he
had pulled up about his ears, conveyed no exact im-
pression to George's mind, and he did not dare to
give the signal Sweetwater expected from him. Yet
as the man went by with a dark and sidelong glance
at them both, he felt his hand rise again, though he
did not complete the action, much to his own disgust
and to the evident disappointment of the watchful
'You're not sure?" he now heard, oddly inter-
polated in the stream of half-whispered talk with
which the other endeavoured to carry off the situa-
George shook his head. He could not rid himself
of the old impression he had formed of the man in
" Mr. Dunn, a word with you," suddenly spoke
THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE 83
up Sweetwater, to the man who had just passed
them. " That's your name, isn't it? "
" Yes, that is my name," was the quiet response,
in a voice which was at once rich and resonant; a
voice which George knew the voice of the im-
passioned speaker he had heard resounding through
the sleet as he cowered within hearing in the shed be-
hind the Avenue A tenement. " Who are you who
wish to speak to me at so late an hour? "
He was returning to them from the door he had
unlocked and left slightly ajar.
" Well, we are You know what," smiled the
ready detective, advancing half-way to greet him.
" We're not members of the Associated Brotherhood,
but possibly have hopes of being so. At all events,
we should like to talk the matter over, if, as you
say, it's not too late."
" I have nothing to do with the club "
" But you spoke before it."
" Then you can give us some sort of an idea how
we are to apply for membership."
Mr. Dunn met the concentrated gaze of his two
evidently unwelcome visitors with a frankness which
dashed George's confidence in himself, but made lit-
tle visible impression upon his daring companion.
" I should rather see you at another time," said
he. " But " his hesitation was inappreciable save
to the nicest ear " if you will allow me to be brief,
I will tell you what I know which is very little."
Sweetwater was greatly taken aback. All he had
looked for, as he was careful to tell my husband later,
84 INITIALS ONLY
was a sufficiently prolonged conversation to enable
George to mark and study the workings of the face he
was not yet sure of. Nor did the detective feel quite
easy at the readiness of his reception; nor any too
well pleased to accept the invitation which this man
now gave them to enter his room.
But he suffered no betrayal of his misgivings to
escape him, though he was careful to intimate to
George, as they waited in the doorway for the other
to light up, that he should not be displeased at his
refusal to accompany him further in this adventure,
and even advised him to remain in the hall till he re-
ceived his summons to enter.
But George had not come as far as this to back out
now, and as soon as he saw Sweetwater advance into
the now well-lighted interior, he advanced too and
began to look around him.
The room, like many others in these old-fashioned
tenements, had a jog just where the door was, so
that on entering they had to take several steps be-
fore they could get a full glimpse of its four walls.
When they did, both showed surprise. Comfort, if
not elegance, confronted them, which impression,
however, was immediately lost in the evidences of
work, manual, as well as intellectual, which were
everywhere scattered about.
The man who lived here was not only a student, as
was evinced by a long wall full of books, but he was
an art-lover, a musician, an inventor and an athlete.
So much could be learned from the most cursory
glance. A more careful one picked up other facts
fully as startling and impressive. The books were
THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE 85
choice; the invention to all appearance a practical
one; the art of a high order and the music, such as
was in view, of a character of which the nicest taste
need not be ashamed.
George began to feel quite conscious of the intru-
sion of which they had been guilty, and was amazed
at the ease with which the detective carried himself
in the presence of such manifestations of culture and
good, hard work. He was trying to recall the exact
appearance of the figure he had seen stooping in the
snowy street two nights before, when he found him-
self staring at the occupant of the room, who had
taken up his stand before them and was regarding
them while they were regarding the room.
He had thrown aside his hat and rid himself of
his overcoat, and the fearlessness of his aspect
seemed to daunt the hitherto dauntless Sweetwater,
who, for the first time in his life, perhaps, hunted
in vain for words with which to start conversa-
Had he made an awful mistake? Was this Mr.
Dunn what he seemed, an unknown and careful
genius, battling with great odds in his honest strug-
gle to give the world something of value in return
for what it had given him? The quick, almost dep-
recatory glance he darted at George betrayed his
dismay; a dismay which George had begun to share,
notwithstanding his growing belief that the man's
face was not wholly unknown to him even if he could
not recognise it as the one he had seen outside the
" You seem to have forgotten your errand," came
86 INITIALS ONLY
in quiet, if not good-natured, sarcasm from their
patiently waiting host.
" It's the room," muttered Sweetwater, with an
attempt at his old-time ease which was not as fully
successful as usual. " What an all-fired genius you
must be. I never saw the like. And in a tenement
house too! You ought to be in one of those big
new studio buildings in New York where artists be
and everything you see is beautiful. You'd appre-
ciate it, you would."
The detective started, George started, at the
gleam which answered him from a very uncommon
eye. It was a temporary flash, however, and quickly
veiled, and the tone in which this Dunn now spoke
was anything but an encouraging one.
" I thought you were desirous of joining a social-
istic fraternity," said he; "a true aspirant for such
honours don't care for beautiful things unless all can
have them. I prefer my tenement. How is it with
you, friends? "
Sweetwater found some sort of a reply, though
the thing which this man now did must have startled
him, as it certainly did George. They were so
grouped that a table quite full of anomalous objects
stood at the back of their host, and consequently
quite beyond their own reach. As Sweetwater be-
gan to speak, he whom he had addressed by the name
of Dunn, drew a pistol from his breast pocket and
laid it down barrel towards them on this table top.
Then he looked up courteously enough, and listened
till Sweetwater was done. A very handsome man,
but one not to be trifled with in the slightest degree.
THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE 87
Both recognised this fact, and George, for one, began
to edge towards the door.
" Now I feel easier," remarked the giant, swelling
out his chest. He was unusually tall, as well as un-
usually muscular. " I never like to carry arms ;
but sometimes it is unavoidable. Damn it, what
hands ! " He was looking at his own, which cer-
tainly showed soil. "Will you pardon me?" he
pleasantly apologised, stepping towards a wash-
stand and plunging his hands into the basin. " I
cannot think with dirt on me like that. Humph,
hey! did you speak? "
He turned quickly on George who had certainly
uttered an ejaculation, but receiving no reply, went
on with his task, completing it with a care and a
disregard of their presence which showed him up in
still another light.
But even his hardihood showed shock, when, upon
turning round with a brisk, " Now I'm ready to
talk," he encountered again the clear eye of Sweet-
water. For, in the person of this none too welcome
intruder, he saw a very different man from the one
upon whom he had just turned his back with so little
ceremony; and there appeared to be no good reason
for the change. He had not noted in his preoccu-
pation, how George, at sight of his stooping figure,
had made a sudden significant movement, and if he
had, the pulling of a necktie straight, would have
meant nothing to him. But to Sweetwater it meant
every thing, and it was in the tone of one fully at ease
with himself that he now dryly remarked:
41 Mr. Brotherson, if you feel quite clean, and if
88 INITIALS ONLY
you have sufficiently warmed yourself, I would sug-
gest that we start out at once, unless you prefer to
have me share this room with you till the morning."
There was silence. Mr. Dunn thus addressed at-
tempted no answer ; not for a full minute. The two
men were measuring each other George felt that
he did not count at all and they were quite too
much occupied with this task to heed the passage
of time. To George, who knew little, if anything,
of what this silent struggle meant to either, it seemed
that the detective stood no show before this Samson
of physical strength and intellectual power, backed
by a pistol just within reach of his hand. But as
George continued to look and saw the figure of the
smaller man gradually dilate, while that of the
larger, the more potent and the better guarded, gave
unmistakable signs of secret wavering, he slowly
changed his mind and, ranging himself with the
detective, waited for the word or words which should
explain this situation and render intelligible the
triumph gradually becoming visible in the young de-
But he was not destined to have his curiosity satis-
fied so far. He might witness and hear, but it was
long before he understood.
" Brotherson ? " repeated their host, after the
silence had lasted to the breaking-point. " Why do
you call me that? "
" Because it is your name."
' You called me Dunn a minute ago."
" That is true."
' Why Dunn if Brotherson is my name? "
THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE 89
" Because you spoke under the name of Dunn at
the meeting to-night, and if I don't mistake, that is
the name by which you are known here."
" And you? By what name are you known? "
"It is late to ask, isn't it? But I'm willing to
speak it now, and I might not have been so a little
earlier in our conversation. I am Detective Sweet-
water of the New York Department of Police, and
my errand here is a very simple one. Some let-
ters signed by you have been found among the papers
of the lady whose mysterious death at the hotel Cler-
mont is just now occupying the attention of the New
York authorities. If you have any information to
give which will in any way explain that death, your
presence will be welcome at Coroner Heath's office
in New York. If you have not, your presence will
still be welcome. At all events, I was told to bring
you. You will be on hand to accompany me in the
morning, I am quite sure, pardoning the unconven-
tional means I have taken to make sure of my man? "
The humour with which this was said seemed to
rob it of anything like attack, and Mr. Brotherson,
as we shall hereafter call him, smiled with an odd
acceptance of the same, as he responded:
" I will go before the police certainly. I haven't
much to tell, but what I have is at their service. It
will not help you, but I have no secrets. What are
you doing? "
He bounded towards Sweetwater, who had simply
stepped to the window, lifted the shade and looked
across at the opposing tenement.
" I wanted to see if it was still snowing," ex-
90 INITIALS ONLY
plained the detective, with a smile, which seemed to
strike the other like a blow. " If it was a liberty,
please pardon it."
Mr. Brotherson drew back. The cold air of self-
possession which he now assumed, presented such a
contrast to the unwarranted heat of the moment be-
fore that George wondered greatly over it, and later,
when he recapitulated to me the whole story of this
night, it was this incident of the lifted shade, to-
gether with the emotion it had caused, which he ac-
knowledged as being for him the most inexplicable
event of the evening and the one he was most anxious
to hear explained.
As this ends our connection with this affair, I will
bid you my personal farewell. I have often wished
that circumstances had made it possible for me to ac-
company you through the remaining intricacies of this
But you will not lack a suitable guide.
AS SEEN BY DETECTIVE SWEETWATER
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
AT an early hour the next morning, Sweetwater
stood before the coroner's desk, urging a plea he
feared to hear refused. He wished to be present at
the interview soon to be held with Mr. Brotherson,
and he had no good reason to advance why such a
privilege should be allotted him.
" It's not curiosity," said he. " There's a ques-
tion I hope to see settled. I can't communicate it
you would laugh at me ; but it's an important one, a
very important one, and I beg that you will let me
sit in one of the corners and hear what he says. I
won't bother and I'll be very still, so still that
he'll hardly notice me. Do grant me this favour,
The coroner, who had had some little experience
with this man, surveyed him with a smile less for-
bidding than the poor fellow expected.
" You seem to lay great store by it," said he; " if
you want to sort those papers over there, you may."
" Thank you. I don't understand the job, but I
promise you not to increase the confusion. If I do;
if I rattle the leaves too loudly, it will mean, ' Press
him further on this exact point,' but I doubt if I
rattle them, sir. No such luck."
The last three words were uttered sotto voce, but
the coroner heard him, and followed his ungainly
94 INITIALS ONLY
figure with a glance of some curiosity, as he settled
himself at the desk on the other side of the room.
" Is the man " he began, but at this moment
the man entered, and Dr. Heath forgot the young
detective, in his interest in the new arrival.
Neither dressed with the elegance known to the
habitues of the Clermont, nor yet in the workman's
outfit in which he had thought best to appear before
the Associated Brotherhood, the newcomer advanced,
with an aspect of open respect which could not fail
to make a favourable impression upon the critical eye
of the official awaiting him. So favourable, indeed,
was this impression that that gentleman half rose,
infusing a little more consideration into his greeting
than he was accustomed to show to his prospective
witnesses. Such a fearless eye he had seldom en-
countered, nor was it often his pleasure to confront
so conspicuous a specimen of physical and intellectual
" Mr. Brotherson, I believe," said he, as he mo-
tioned his visitor to sit.
" That is my name, sir."
4 The same, sir."
" I'm glad we have made no mistake," smiled the
doctor. u Mr. Brotherson, I have sent for you
under the supposition that you were a friend of the
unhappy lady lately dead at the Hotel Clermont."
" Certainly; Miss Challoner."
" I knew the lady. But " here the speaker's
eye took on a look as questioning as that of his inter-
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 95
locator " but in a way so devoid of all publicity
that I cannot but feel surprised that the fact should
At this, the listening Sweetwater hoped that Dr.
Heath would ignore the suggestion thus conveyed and
decline the explanation it apparently demanded.
But the impression made by the gentleman's good
looks had been too strong for this coroner's proverb-
ial caution, and, handing over the slip of a note
which had been found among Miss Challoner's effects
by her father, he quietly asked:
" Do you recognise the signature? "
" Yes, it is mine."
' Then you acknowledge yourself the author of
these lines? "
" Most certainly. Have I not said that this is
my signature? "
" Do you remember the words of this note, Mr.
" Hardly. I recollect its tenor, but not the exact
" Read them."
" Excuse me, I had rather not. I am aware that
they were bitter and should be the cause of great
regret. I was angry when I wrote them."
' That is evident. But the cause of your anger
is not so clear, Mr. Brotherson. Miss Challoner
was a woman of lofty character, or such was the uni-
versal opinion of her friends. What could she have
done to a gentleman like yourself to draw forth such
a tirade? "
"You ask that?"
96 INITIALS ONLY
" I am obliged to. There is mystery surround-
ing her death; the kind of mystery which demands
perfect frankness on the part of all who were near
her on that evening, or whose relations to her were in
any way peculiar. You acknowledge that your
friendship was of such a guarded nature that it sur-
prised you greatly to hear it recognised. Yet you
could write her a letter of this nature. Why? "
" Because " the word came glibly; but the next
one was long in following. " Because," he repeated,
letting the fire of some strong feeling disturb for a
moment his dignified reserve, " I offered myself to
Miss Challoner, and she dismissed me with great dis-
" Ah ! and so you thought a threat was due her? "
' These words contain a threat, do they not? "
' They may. I was hardly master of myself at
the time. I may have expressed myself in an un-
" Read the words, Mr. Brotherson. I really must
insist that you do so."
There was no hesitancy now. Rising, he leaned
over the table and read the few words the other had
spread out for his perusal. Then he slowly rose
to his full height, as he answered, with some slight
display of compunction:
" I remember it perfectly now. It is not a letter
to be proud of. I hope "
" Pray finish, Mr. Brotherson."
' That you are not seeking to establish a connec-
tion between this letter and her violent death? "
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 97
" Letters of this sort are often very mischievous,
Mr. Brotherson. The harshness with which this is
written might easily rouse emotions of a most un-
happy nature in the breast of a woman as sensitive as
" Pardon me, Dr. Heath; I cannot flatter myself
so far. You overrate my influence with the lady you
' You believe, then, that she was sincere in her re-
jection of your addresses? "
A start, too slight to be noted by any one but the
watchful Sweetwater, showed that this question had
gone home. But the self-poise and mental control
of this man were perfect, and in an instant he was
facing the coroner again, with a dignity which gave
no clew to the disturbance into which his thoughts
had just been thrown. Nor was this disturbance ap-
parent in his tones when he made his reply :
" I have never allowed myself to think otherwise.
I have seen no reason why I should. The suggestion
you would convey by such a question is hardly wel-
come, now. I pray you to be careful in your judg-
ment of such a woman's impulses. They often
spring from sources not to be sounded even by her
Just ; but how cold ! Dr. Heath, eyeing him with
admiration rather than sympathy, hesitated how to
proceed; while Sweetwater, peering up from his
papers, sought in vain for some evidence of the be-
reaved lover in the impressive but wholly dispassion-
ate figure of him who had just spoken. Had pride
got the better of his heart? or had that organ always
9 8 INITIALS ONLY
been subordinate to the will in this man of instincts
so varying, that at one time he impressed you simply
as a typical gentleman of leisure; at another, as no
more than a fiery agitator with powers absorbed by,
if not limited to the one cause he advocated; and
again and this seemed the most contradictory of
all just the ardent inventor, living in a tenement,
with Science for his goddess and work always under
his hand? As the young detective weighed these pos-
sibilities and marvelled over the contradictions they
offered, he forgot the papers now lying quiet under
his hand. He was too interested to remember his
own part something which could not often be
said of Sweetwater.
Meantime, the coroner had collected his thoughts.
With an apology for the extremely personal nature
of his inquiry, he asked Mr. Brotherson if he would
object to giving him some further details of his ac-
quaintanceship with Miss Challoner; where he first
met her and under what circumstances their friend-
ship had developed.
" Not at all," was the ready reply. " I have noth-
ing to conceal in the matter. I only wish that her
father were present that he might listen to the recital
of my acquaintanceship with his daughter. He
might possibly understand her better and regard with
more leniency the presumption into which I was led
by my ignorance of the pride inherent in great
' Your wish can very easily be gratified," returned
the official, pressing an electric button on his desk;
" Mr. Challoner is in the adjoining room." Then,
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 99
as the door communicating with the room he had
mentioned swung ajar and stood so, Dr. Heath
added, without apparent consciousness of the dra-
matic character of this episode, " You will not need to
raise your voice beyond its natural pitch. He can
hear perfectly from where he sits."
" Thank you. I am glad to speak in his pres-
ence," came in undisturbed self-possession from this
not easily surprised witness. " I shall relate the
facts exactly as they occurred, adding nothing and
concealing nothing. If I mistook my position, or
Miss Challoner's position, it is not for me to apolo-
gise. I never hid my business from her, nor the
moderate extent of my fortune. If she knew me
at all, she knew me for what I am; a man of the
people who glories in work and who has risen by it
to a position somewhat unique in this city. I feel no
lack of equality even with such a woman as Miss
A most unnecessary preamble, no doubt, and of
doubtful efficacy in smoothing his way to a correct
understanding with the deeply bereaved father.
But he looked so handsome as he thus asserted him-
self and made so much of his inches and the noble
poise of his head though cold of eye and always
cold of manner that those who saw, as well as
heard him, forgave this display of egotism in con-
sideration of its honesty and the dignity it imparted
to his person.
" I first met Miss Challoner in the Berkshires," he
began, after a moment of quiet listening for any pos-
sible sound from the other room. " I had been on
ioo INITIALS ONLY
the tramp, and had stopped at one of the great
hotels for a seven days' rest. I will acknowledge
that I chose this spot at the instigation of a relative
who knew my tastes and how perfectly they might
be gratified there. That I should mingle with the
guests may not have been in his thought, any more
than it was in mine at the beginning of my stay.
The panorama of beauty spread out before me on
every side was sufficient in itself for my enjoyment,
and might have continued so to the end if my atten-
tion had not been very forcibly drawn on one memo**
able morning to a young lady Miss Challoner
by the very earnest look she gave me as I was
crossing the office from one verandah to another. I
must insist on this look, even if it shock the delicacy
of my listeners, for without the interest it awakened
in me, I might not have noticed the blush with which
she turned aside to join her friends on the verandah.
It was an overwhelming blush which could not have
sprung from any slight embarrassment, and, though
I hate the pretensions of those egotists who see in
a woman's smile more than it by right conveys, I
could not help being moved by this display of feeling
in one so gifted with every grace and attribute of the
perfect woman. With less caution than I usually
display, I approached the desk where she had been
standing and, meeting the eyes of the clerk, asked
the young lady's name. He gave it, and waited for
me to express the surprise he expected it to evoke.
But I felt none and showed none. Other feelings
had seized me. I had heard of this gracious woman
from many sources, in my life among the suffering
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 101
masses of New York, and now that I had seen her
and found her to be not only my ideal of personal
loveliness but seemingly approachable and not un-
interested in myself, I allowed my fancy to soar and
my heart to become touched. A fact which the clerk
now confided to me naturally deepened the impres-
sion. Miss Challoner had seen my name in the
guest-book and asked to have me pointed out to her.
Perhaps she had heard my name spoken in the same
quarter where I had heard hers. We have never
exchanged confidences on the subject, and I cannot
say. I can only give you my reason for the interest
I felt in Miss Challoner and why I forgot, in the
glamour of this episode, the aims and purposes of a
not unambitious life and the distance which the
world and the so-called aristocratic class put between
a woman of her wealth and standing and a simple
worker like myself.
" I must be pardoned. She had smiled upon me
once, and she smiled again. Days before we were
formally presented, I caught her softened look turned
my way, as we passed each other in hall or corridor.
We were friends, or so it appeared to me, before ever
a word passed between us, and when fortune
favoured us and we were duly introduced, our minds
met in a strange sympathy which made this one inter-
view a memorable one to me. Unhappily, as I then
considered it, this was my last day at the hotel, and
our conversation, interrupted frequently by passing
acquaintances, was never resumed. I exchanged a
few words with her by way of good-bye but nothing
more. I came to New York, and she remained in
102 INITIALS ONLY
Lenox. A month after and she too came to New
"This good-bye do you remember it? The
exact language, I mean? "
"I do; it made a great impression on me. 'I
shall hope for our further acquaintance,' she said.
' We have one very strong interest in common/
And if ever a human face spoke eloquently, it was
hers at that moment. The interest, as I understood
it, was our mutual sympathy for our toiling, half-
starved, down-trodden brothers and sisters in the
lower streets of this city ; but the eloquence that I
probably mistook. I thought it sprang from
personal interest, and it gave me courage to pursue
the intention which had taken the place of every
other feeling and ambition by which I had hitherto
been moved. Here was a woman in a thousand;
one who could make a man of me indeed. If she
could ignore the social gulf between us, I felt free to
take the leap. Cowardice had never been a fault of
mine. But I was no fool even then. I realised that
I must first let her see the manner of man I was
and what life meant to me and must mean to her if
the union I contemplated should become an actual
fact. I wrote letters to her, but I did not give her
my address or even request a reply. I was not ready
for any word from her. I am not like other men
and I could wait. And I did, for weeks, then I
suddenly appeared at her hotel."
The change of voice the bitterness which he in-
fused into this final sentence made every one look up.
Hitherto he had spoken calmly, almost monotonously,
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 103
as if no present heart-beat responded to this tale of
vanished love ; but with the words, " Then I suddenly
appeared at her hotel," he showed himself human
again, and betrayed a passion which though curbed
was of the fiery quality, befitting his extraordinary
attributes of mind and person.
"This was when?" put in Dr. Heath, anxious
to bridge the pause which must have been very pain-
ful to the listening father.
" The week after Thanksgiving. I did not see
her the first day, and only casually the second. But
she knew I was in the building, and when I came
upon her one evening seated at the very desk in the
mezzanine which we all have such bitter cause to
remember, I could not forbear expressing myself in
a way she could not misunderstand. The result was
of a kind to drive a man like myself to an extremity
of self-condemnation and rage. She rose up as if
insulted, and flung me one sentence and one sentence
only before she hailed the elevator and left my pres-
ence. A cur could not have been dismissed with less
' That is not like my daughter. What was the
sentence you allude to? Let me hear the very
words." Mr. Challoner had come forward and now
stood awaiting his reply, a dignified but pathetic
figure, which all must view with respect.
" I hate the memory of them, but since you de-
mand it, I will repeat them just as they fell from her
lips," was Mr. Brotherson's bitter retort. " She
said, ' You of all men should recognise the unseemli-
ness of these proposals. Had your letters given me
io 4 INITIALS ONLY
any hint of the feelings you have just expressed, you
would never have had this opportunity of approach-
ing me.' That was all; but her indignation was
scathing. Ladies who have supped exclusively off
silver, show a fine scorn for the common ware of the
Mr. Challoner bowed. " There is some mistake,"
said he. " My daughter might be averse to your
addresses, but she would never show indignation to
any aspirant for her hand, simply on account of ex-
traneous conditions. She had wide sympathies
wider than I often approved. Something in your
conduct or the confidence you showed shocked her
nicer sense; not your lack of the luxuries she often
misprised. This much I feel obliged to say, out of
justice to her character, which was uniformly con-
' You have seen her with men of her own world
and yours," was the harsh response. " She had an-
other side to her nature for the man of a different
sphere. And it killed my love that you can see
and led to my sending her the injudicious letter with
which you have confronted me. The hurt bull ut-
ters one bellow before he dies. I bellowed, and
bellowed loudly, but I did not die. I'm my own
man still and mean to remain so."
The assertive boldness some would call it
bravado with which he thus finished the story of
his relations with the dead heiress, seemed to be
more than Mr. Challoner could stand. With a look
of extreme pain and perplexity he vanished from the
doorway, and it fell to Dr. Heath to inquire :
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 105
" Is this letter a letter of threat you will re-
member the only communication which passed be-
tween you and Miss Challoner after this unfortunate
passage of arms at the Clermont? "
' Yes. I had no wish to address her again. I
had exhausted in this one outburst whatever humilia-
tion I felt."
"And she? Did she give no sign, make you
no answer? "
" None whatever." Then, as if he found it im-
possible to hide this hurt to his pride, " She did not
even seem to consider me worthy the honour of an
added rebuke. Such arrogance is, no doubt, com-
mendable in a Challoner."
This time his bitterness did not pass unrebuked by
the coroner: " Remember the grey hairs of the only
Challoner who can hear you, and respect his grief."
Mr. Brotherson bowed.
" I have finished," said he. " I shall have noth-
ing more to say on the subject." And he drew him-
self up in expectation of the dismissal he evidently
But the coroner was not done with him by any
means. He had a theory in regard to this lament-
able suicide which he hoped to establish by this man's
testimony, and, in pursuit of this plan, he not only
motioned to Mr. Brotherson to reseat himself, but
began at once to open a fresh line of examination by
" You will pardon me, if I press this matter. I
have been given to understand that notwithstanding
your break with Miss Challoner, you have kept up
io6 INITIALS ONLY
your visits to the Clermont and were even on the
spot at the time of her death."
" On the spot? "
" In the hotel, I mean."
"There you are right; I was in the hotel."
" At the time of her death ? "
" Very near the time. I remember hearing
some disturbance in the lobby behind me, just as I
was passing out at the Broadway entrance."
" You did, and did not return? "
" Why should I return? I am not a man of much
curiosity. There was no reason why I should con-
nect a sudden alarm in the lobby of the Clermont
with any cause of special interest to myself."
This was so true and the look which accompanied
the words was so frank that the coroner hesitated
a moment before he said:
"Certainly not, unless well, to be direct, un-
less you had just seen Miss Challoner and knew her
state of mind and what was likely to follow your
" I had no interview with Miss Challoner."
" But you saw her? Saw her that evening and
just before the accident?"
Sweetwater's papers rattled ; it was the only sound
to be heard in that moment of silence. Then
' What do you mean by those words? " inquired
Mr. Brotherson, with studied composure. " I have
said that I had no interview with Miss Challoner.
Why do you ask me then, if I saw her? "
" Because I believe that you did. From a dis-
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 107
tance possibly, but yet directly and with no possi-
bility of mistake."
" Do you put that as a question? "
"I do. Did you see her figure or face that
11 1 did."
Nothing not even the rattling of Sweetwater's
papers disturbed the silence which followed this
" From where? " Dr. Heath asked at last.
" From a point far enough away to make any com-
munication between us impossible. I do not think
you will require me to recall the exact spot."
" If it were one which made it possible for her to
see you as clearly as you could see her, I think it would
be very advisable for you to say so."
" It was such a spot."
" Then I think I can locate it for you, or do you
prefer to locate it yourself? "
" I will locate it myself. I had hoped not to be
called upon to mention what I cannot but consider
a most unfortunate coincidence. As a gentleman you
will understand my reticence and also why it is a
matter of regret to me that with an acumen worthy
of your position, you should have discovered a fact
which, while it cannot explain Miss Challoner's
death, will drag our little affair before the public,
and possibly give it a prominence in some minds
which I am sure does not belong to it. I met Miss
Challoner's eye for one instant from the top of the
little staircase running up to the mezzanine. I had
io8 INITIALS ONLY
yielded thus far to an impulse I had frequently corn-
batted, to seek by another interview to retrieve the
bad effect which must have been made upon her by
my angry note. I knew that she frequently wrote
letters in the mezzanine at this hour, and got as far
as the top of the staircase in my effort to join her.
But I got no further. When I saw her on her feet,
with her face turned my way, I remembered the scorn
with which she had received my former heart-felt pro-
posals and, without taking another step forward, I
turned away from her and fled down the steps and
so out of the building by the main entrance. She saw
me, for her hand flew up with a startled gesture, but
I cannot think that my presence on the same floor
with her could have caused her to strike the blow
which terminated her life. Why should I? No
woman sacrifices her life out of mere regret for the
disdain she has shown a man she has taken no pains
His tone and his attitude seemed to invite the
concurrence of Dr. Heath in this statement. But
the richness of the one and the grace of the other
showed the handsome speaker off to such advantage
that the coroner was rather inclined to consider how
a woman, even of Miss Challoner's fine taste and
careful breeding, might see in such a situation much
for regret, if not for active despair and the suicidal
act. He gave no evidence of his thought, however,
but followed up the one admission made by Mr.
Brotherson which he and others must naturally view
as of the first importance.
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION 109
" You saw Miss Challoner lift her hand, you say.
Which hand, and what was in it? Anything? "
" She lifted her right hand, but it would be impos-
sible for me to tell you whether there was anything
in it or not. I simply saw the movement before I
turned away. It looked like one of alarm to me. I
felt that she had some reason for this. She could
not know that it was in repentance I came rather than
in fulfilment of my threat."
A sigh from the adjoining room. Mr. Brother-
son rose, as he heard it, and in doing so met the clear
eye of Sweetwater fixed upon his own. Its language
was, no doubt, peculiar and it seemed to fascinate
him for a moment, for he started as if to approach
the detective, but forsook this intention almost im-
mediately, and addressing the coroner, gravely re-
" Her death following so quickly upon this abor-
tive attempt of mine at an interview startled me by
its coincidence as much as it does you. If in the
weakness of her woman's nature, it was more than this
if the scorn she had previously shown me was a
cloak she instinctively assumed to hide what she was
not ready to disclose, my remorse will be as great as
any one here could wish. But the proof of all this
will have to be very convincing before my present
convictions will yield to it. Some other and more
poignant source will have to be found for that in-
stant's impulsive act than is supplied by this story
of my unfortunate attachment."
Dr. Heath was convinced, but he was willing to
no INITIALS ONLY
concede something to the secret demand made upon
him by Sweetwater, who was bundling up his papers
with much clatter.
Looking up with a smile which had elements in it
he was hardly conscious of perhaps himself, he asked
in an off-hand way :
" Then why did you take such pains to wash your
hands of the affair the moment you had left the
" I do not understand."
" You passed around the corner into street,
did you not? "
" Very likely. I could go that way as well as an-
" And stopped at the first lamp-post? "
" Oh, I see. Someone saw that childish action of
" What did you mean by it? "
" Just what you have suggested. I did go through
the pantomime of washing my hands of an affair I
considered definitely ended. I had resisted an ir-
repressible impulse to see and talk with Miss Chal-
loner again, and was pleased with my firmness. Un-
aware of the tragic blow which had just fallen, I was
full of self-congratulations at my escape from the
charm which had lured me back to this hotel again
and again in spite of my better judgment, and I
wished to symbolise my relief by an act of which I
was, in another moment, ashamed. Strange that
there should have been a witness to it. (Here he
stole a look at Sweetwater.) Stranger still, that
circumstances by the most extraordinary of coinci-
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION in
dences, should have given so unforeseen a point to
" You are right, Mr. Brotherson. The whole oc-
currence is startling and most strange. But life is
made up of the unexpected, as none know better than
we physicians, whether our practice be of a public or
As Mr. Brotherson left the room, the curiosity to
which he had yielded once before, led him to cast a
glance of penetrating inquiry behind him full at
Sweetwater, and if either felt embarrassment, it was
not the hunted but the hunter.
But the feeling did not last.
" I've simply met the strongest man I've ever en-
countered," was Sweetwater's encouraging comment
to himself. " All the more glory if I can find a
joint in his armour or a hidden passage to his cold,
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS
" MR. Gryce, I am either a fool or the luckiest fel-
low going. You must decide which."
The aged detective, thus addressed, laid down his
evening paper and endeavoured to make out the dim
form he could just faintly discern standing between
him and the library door.
" Sweetwater, is that you ? "
" No one else. Swestwater, the fool, or Sweet-
water, much too wise fcr his own good. I don't
know which. Perhaps you can find out and tell me."
A grunt from the region of the library table, then
the sarcastic remark:
" I'm just in the mood to settle that question.
This last failure to my account ought to make me an
excellent judge of another's folly. I've meddled
with the old business for the last time, Sweetwater.
You'll have to go it rlone from now on. The De-
partment has no more work for Ebenezar Gryce, or
rather Ebenezar Gryce will make no more fool at-
tempts to please them. Strange that a man don't
know when his time has come to quit. I remember
how I once scored Yeardsley for hanging on after he
had lost his grip ; and here am I doing the same thing.
But what's the matter with you ? Speak out, my boy.
Something new in the wind? "
' No, Mr. Gryce; nothing new. It's the same old
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS 113
business. But, if what I suspect is true, this same
old business offers opportunities for some very inter-
esting and unusual effort. You're not satisfied with
the coroner's verdict in the Challoner case? "
" No. I'm satisfied with nothing that leaves all
ends dangling. Suicide was not proved. It seemed
the only presumption possible, but it was not proved.
There was no blood-stain on that cutter-point."
" Nor any evidence that it had ever been there."
" No. I'm not proud of the chain which lacks
a link where it should be strongest."
" We shall never supply that link."
" I quite agree with you."
" That chain we must throw away."
" And forge another? "
Sweetwater approached and sat down.
' Yes; I believe we can do it; yet I have only one
indisputable fact for a starter. That is why I want
you to tell me whether I'm growing daft or simply
adventurous. Mr. Gryce, I don't trust Brotherson.
He has pulled the wool over Dr. Heath's eyes and
almost over those of Mr. Challoner. But he can't
pull it over mine. Though he should tell a story ten
times more plausible than the one with which he has
satisfied the coroner's jury, I would still listen to him
with more misgiving than confidence. Yet I have
caught him in no misstatement, and his eye is steadier
than my own. Perhaps it is simply a deeply rooted
antipathy on my part, or the rage one feels at finding
he has placed his finger on the wrong man. Again
it may be "
n 4 INITIALS ONLY
" A well-founded distrust. Mr. Gryce, I'm going
to ask you a question."
" Ask away. Ask fifty if you want to."
"No; the one may involve fifty, but it is big
enough in itself to hold our attention for a while.
Did you ever hear of a case before, that in some of its
details was similar to this? "
" No, it stands alone. That's why it is so puz-
" You forget. The wealth, beauty and social con-
sequence of the present victim has blinded you to the
strong resemblance which her case bears to one you
know, in which the sufferer had none of the worldly
advantages of Miss Challoner. I allude to "
" Wait ! the washerwoman in Hicks Street !
Sweetwater, what have you got up your sleeve ? You
do mean that Brooklyn washerwoman, don't you? "
' The same. The Department may have forgot-
ten it, but I haven't. Mr. Gryce, there's a startling
similarity in the two cases if you study the essential
features only. Startling, I assure you."
' Yes, you are right there. But what if there is?
We were no more successful in solving that case than
we have been in solving this. Yet you look and act
like a hound which has struck a hot scent."
The young man smoothed his features with an
" I shall never learn," said he, " not to give tongue
till the hunt is fairly started. If you will excuse me,
we'll first make sure of the similarity I have men-
tioned. Then I'll explain myself. I have some
notes here, made at the time it was decided to drop
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS 115
the Hicks Street case as a wholly inexplicable one.
As you know, I never can bear to say 4 die,' and I
sometimes keep such notes as a possible help in case
any such unfinished matter should come up again.
Shall I read them?"
" Do. Twenty years ago it would not have been
necessary. I should have remembered every detail
of an affair so puzzling. But my memory is no
longer entirely reliable. So fire away, my boy,
though I hardly see your purpose or what real bear-
ing the affair in Hicks Street has upon the Clermont
one. A poor washerwoman and the wealthy Miss
Challoner ! True, they were not unlike in their end."
" The connection will come later," smiled the young
detective, with that strange softening of his features
which made one at times forget his extreme plainness.
" I'm sure you will not consider the time lost if I
ask you to consider the comparison I am about to
make, if only as a curiosity in criminal annals."
And he read :
" ' On the afternoon of December Fourth, 1910,
the strong and persistent screaming of a young child
in one of the rooms of a rear tenement in Hicks Street,
Brooklyn, drew the attention of some of the inmates
and led them, after several ineffectual efforts to gain
an entrance, to the breaking in of the door which had
been fastened on the inside by an old-fashioned door-
4 The tenant whom all knew for an honest, hard-
working woman, had not infrequently fastened her
door in this manner, in order to safeguard her child
who was abnormally active and had a way of rattling
n6 INITIALS ONLY
the door open when it was not thus secured. But
she had never refused to open before, and the child's
cries were pitiful.
" ' This was no longer a matter of wonder, when,
the door having been wrenched from its hinges, they
all rushed in. Across a tub of steaming clothes
lifted upon a bench in the open window, they saw
the body of this good woman, lying inert and seem-
ingly dead; the frightened child tugging at her skirts.
She was of a robust make, fleshy and fair, and had
always been considered a model of health and energy,
but at the sight of her helpless figure, thus stricken
while at work, the one cry was ' A stroke ! ' till she
had been lifted off and laid upon the floor. Then
some discoloration in the water at the bottom of the
tub led to a closer examination of her body, and the
discovery of a bullet-hole in her breast directly over
' As she had been standing with face towards the
window, all crowded that way to see where the shot
had come from. As they were on the fourth storey
it could not have come from the court upon which the
room looked. It could only have come from the
front tenement, towering up before them some twenty
feet away. A single window of the innumerable ones
confronting them stood open, and this was the one
' Nobody was to be seen there or in the room be-
yond, but during the excitement, one man ran off to
call the police and another to hunt up the janitor and
ask who occupied this room.
1 His reply threw them all into confusion. The
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS 117
tenant of that room was the best, the quietest and
most respectable man in either building.
" ' Then he must be simply careless and the s4pt an
accidental one. A rush was made for the stairs and
soon the whole building was in an uproar. But when
this especial room was reached, it was found locked
and on the door a paper pinned up, on which these
words were written : Gone to New York. Will be
back at 6:30! Words that recalled a circumstance
to the janitor. He had seen the gentleman go out an
hour before. This terminated all inquiry in this di-
rection, though some few of the excited throng were
for battering down this door just as they had the other
one. But they were overruled by the janitor, who
saw no use in such wholesale destruction, and pres-
ently the arrival of the police restored order and lim-
ited the inquiry to the rear building, where it un-
" Mr. Gryce," (here Sweetwater laid by his notes
that he might address the old gentleman more di-
rectly), " I was with the boys when they made their
first official investigation. This is why you can rely
upon the facts as here given. I followed the investi-
gation closely and missed nothing which could in any
way throw light on the case. It was a mysterious
one from the first, and lost nothing by further inquiry
into the details.
" The first fact to startle us as we made our way
up through the crowd which blocked halls and stair-
cases was this : A doctor had been found and,
though he had been forbidden to make more than a
cursory examination of the body till the coroner came,
n8 INITIALS ONLY
he had not hesitated to declare after his first look,
that the wound had not been made by a bullet but
by some sharp and slender weapon thrust home by a
powerful hand. (You mark that, Mr. Gryce.) As
this seemed impossible in face of the fact that the
door had been found buttoned on the inside, we did
not give much credit to his opinion and began our
work under the obvious theory of an accidental dis-
charge of some gun from one of the windows across
the court. But the doctor was nearer right than we
supposed. When the coroner came to look into the
matter, he discovered that the wound was not only too
small to have been made by the ordinary bullet, but
that there was no bullet to be found in the woman's
body or anywhere else. Her heart had been reached
by a thrust and not by a shot from a gun. Mr.
Gryce, have you not heard a startling repetition of
this report in a case nearer at hand?
" But to go back. This discovery, so important
if true, was as yet that is, at the time of our enter-
ing the room, limited to the off-hand declaration of
an irresponsible physician, but the possibility it in-
volved was of so astonishing a nature that it in-
fluenced us unconsciously in our investigation and led
us almost immediately into a consideration of the diffi-
culties attending an entrance into, as well as an escape
from, a room situated as this was.
" Up three flights from the court, with no com-
munication with the adjoining rooms save through a
door guarded on both sides by heavy pieces of furni-
ture no one person could handle, the hall door but-
toned on the inside, and the fire-escape some fifteen
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS 119
feet to the left, this room of death appeared to be as
removed from the approach of a murderous outsider
as the spot in the writing-room of the Clermont where
Miss Challoner fell.
** Otherwise, the place presented the greatest con-
trast possible to that scene of splendour and comfort.
I had not entered the Clermont at that time, and no
such comparison could have struck my mind. But
I have thought of it since, and you, with your ex-
perience, will not find it difficult to picture the room
where this poor woman lived and worked. Bare
walls, with just a newspaper illustration pinned up
here and there, a bed tragically occupied at this
moment a kitchen stove on which a boiler, half-
filled with steaming clothes still bubbled and foamed,
an old bureau, a large pine wardrobe against
an inner door which we later found to have been
locked for months, and the key lost, some chairs
and most pronounced of all, because of its position
directly before the window, a pine bench supporting a
wash-tub of the old sort.
" As it was here the woman fell, this tub naturally
received the closest examination. A board projected
from its further side, whither it had evidently been
pushed by the weight of her falling body; and from
its top hung a wet cloth, marking with its lugubrious
drip on the boards beneath the first heavy moments of
silence which is the natural accompaniment of so seri-
ous a survey. On the floor to the right lay a half-
used cake of soap just as it had slipped from her hand.
The window was closed, for the temperature was at
the freezing-point, but it had been found up, and it
120 INITIALS ONLY
was put up now to show the height at which it had
then stood. As we all took our look at the house
wall opposite, a sound of shouting came up from be-
low. A dozen children were sliding on barrel staves
down a slope of heaped-up snow. They had been
engaged in this sport all the afternoon and were our
witnesses later that no one had made a hazardous
escape by means of the ladder of the fire-escape, run-
ning, as I have said, at an almost unattainable dis-
tance towards the left.
" Of her own child, whose cries had roused the
neighbours, nothing was to be seen. The woman in
the extreme rear had carried it off to her room; but
when we came to see it later, no doubt was felt by
any of us that this child was too young to talk con-
nectedly, nor did I ever hear that it ever said any-
thing which could in any way guide investigation.
" And that is as fjir as we ever got. The
coroner's jury brought in a verdict of death by means
of a stab from some unknown weapon in the hand
of a person also unknown, but no weapon was ever
found, nor was it ever settled how the attack could
have been made or the murderer escape under the
conditions described. The woman was poor, her
friends few, and the case seemingly inexplicable. So
-ifter creating some excitement by its peculiarities,
it fell of its own weight. But I remembered it, and
in many a spare hour have tried to see my way
through the no-thoroughfare it presented. But
quite in vain. To-day, the road is as blind as ever,
but " here Sweetwater's face sharpened and his
eyes burned as he leaned closer and closer to the
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS
older detective " but this second case, so unlike the
first in non-essentials but so exactly like it in just
those points which make the mystery, has dropped a
thread from its tangled skein into my hand, which
may yet lead us to the heart of both. Can you guess
have you guessed what this thread is? But
how could you without the one clew I have not given
you? Mr. Gryce, the tenement where this occurred
is the same I visited the other night in search of Mr.
Brotherson. And the man characterised at that time
by the janitor as the best, the quietest and most re-
spectable tenant in the whole building, and the one
you remember whose window opened directly oppo-
site the spot where this woman lay dead, was Mr.
Dunn himself, or, in other words, our late redoubt-
able witness, Mr. Orlando Brotherson."
MR. GRYCE FINDS AN ANTIDOTE FOR OLD AGE
" I THOUGHT I should make you sit up. I really cal-
culated upon doing so, sir. Yes, I have established
the plain fact that this Brotherson was near to, if not
in the exact line of the scene of crime in each of these
extraordinary and baffling cases. A very odd coinci-
dence, is it not?" was the dry conclusion of our
eager young detective. . . .
" Odd enough if you are correct in your statement.
But I thought it was conceded that the man Brother-
son was not personally near, was not even in the
building at the time of the woman's death in Hicks
Street; that he was out and had been out for hours,
according to the janitor."
" And so the janitor thought, but he didn't quite
know his man. I'm not sure that I do. But I mean
to make his acquaintance and make it thoroughly be-
fore I let him go. The hero well, I will say the
possible hero of two such adventures deserves
some attention from one so interested in the abnormal
" Sweetwater, how came you to discover that
Mr. Dunn of this ramshackle tenement in Hicks
Street was identical with the elegantly equipped ad-
mirer of Miss Challoner?"
" Just this way. The night before Miss Chal-
loner's death I was brooding very deeply over the
AN ANTIDOTE FOR OLD AGE 123
Hicks Street case. It had so possessed me that I
had taken this street in on my way from Flatbush ; as
if staring at the house and its swarming courtyard
was going to settle any such question as that I I
walked by the place and I looked up at the windows.
No inspiration. Then I sauntered back and entered
the house with the fool intention of crossing the
courtyard and wandering into the rear building
where the crime had occurred. But my attention
was diverted and my mind changed by seeing a man
coming down the stairs before me, of so fine a figure
that I involuntarily stopped to look at him. Had he
moved a little less carelessly, had he worn his work-
man's clothes a little less naturally, I should have
thought him some college bred man out on a slum-
ming expedition. But he was entirely too much at
home where he was, and too unconscious of his jeans
for any such conclusion on my part, and when he had
passed out I had enough curiosity to ask who he was.
" My interest, you may believe, was in no wise
abated when I learned that he was that highly re-
spectable tenant whose window had been open at the
time when half the inmates of the two buildings had
rushed up to his door, only to find a paper on it dis-
playing these words: Gone to New York; will be
back at 6:30. Had he returned at that hour? I
don't think anybody had ever asked ; and what reason
had I for such interference now? But an idea once
planted in my brain sticks tight, and I kept thinking
of this man all the way to the Bridge. Instinctively
and quite against my will, I found myself connecting
him with some previous remembrance in which I
i2 4 INITIALS ONLY
seemed to see his tall form and strong features under
the stress of some great excitement. But there my
memory stopped, till suddenly as I was entering the
subway, it all came back to me. I had met him the
day I went with the boys to investigate the case in
Hicks Street. He was coming down the staircase of
the rear tenement then, very much as I had just seen
him coming down the one in front. Only the Dunn
of to-day seemed to have all his wits about him,
while the huge fellow who brushed so rudely by me
on that occasion had the peculiar look of a man strug-
gling with horror or some other grave agitation.
This was not surprising, of course, under the circum-
stances. I had met more than one man and woman
in those halls who had worn the same look; but none
of them had put up a sign on his door that he had
left for New York and would not be back till 6 130,
and then changed his mind so suddenly that he was
back in the tenement at three, sharing the curiosity
and the terrors of its horrified inmates.
" But the discovery, while possibly suggestive, was
not of so pressing a nature as to demand instant
action; and more immediate duties coming up, I let
the matter slip from my mind, to be brought up again
the next day, you may well believe, when all the cir-
cumstances of the death at the Clermont came to light
and I found myself confronted by a problem very
nearly the counterpart of the one then occupying
" But I did not see any real connection between
the two cases, until, in my hunt for Mr. Brotherson,
I came upon the following facts : that he was not al-
AN ANTIDOTE FOR OLD AGE 125
ways the gentleman he appeared: that the apartment
in which he was supposed to live was not his own but
a friend's; and that he was only there by spells.
When he was there, he dressed like a prince and it
was while so clothed he ate his meals in the cafe of
the Hotel Clermont.
" But there were times when he had been seen to
leave this apartment in a very different garb, and
while there was no one to insinuate that he was da Jt
in paying his debts or was given to dissipation or any
overt vice, it was generally conceded by such as
casually knew him, that there was a mysterious side
to his life which no one understood. His friend <
a seemingly candid and open-minded gentleman
explained these contradictions by saying that Mr.
Brotherson was a humanitarian and spent much of
his time in the slums. That while so engaged he
naturally dressed to suit the occasion, and if he was
to be criticised at all, it was for his zeal which often
led him to extremes and kept him to his task for days,
during which time none of his up-town friends saw
him. Then this enthusiastic gentleman called him
the great intellectual light of the day, and well, if
ever I want a character I shall take pains to insinuate
myself into the good graces of this Mr. Conway.
" Of Brotherson himself I saw nothing. He had
come to Mr. Conway's apartment the night before
the night of Miss Challoner's death, you understand
but had remained only long enough to change his
clothes. Where he went afterwards is unknown to
Mr. Conway, nor can he tell us when to look for his
return. When he does show up, my message will be
126 INITIALS ONLY
given him, etc., etc. I have no fault to find with Mr.
" But I had an idea in regard to this elusive
Brotherson. I had heard enough about him to be
mighty sure that together with his other accomplish-
ments he possessed the golden tongue and easy
speech of an orator. Also, that his tendencies were
revolutionary and that for all his fine clothes and
hankering after table luxuries and the like, he
cherished a spite against wealth which made his words
under certain moods cut like a knife. But there was
another man, known to us of the Precinct, who
had very nearly these same gifts, and this man was
going to speak at a secret meeting that very evening.
This we had been told by a disgruntled member of
the Associated Brotherhood. Suspecting Brotherson,
I had this prospective speaker described, and thought
I recognised my man. But I wanted to be positive
in my identification, so I took Anderson with me, and
but I'll cut that short. We didn't sec the orator
and that ' go ' went for nothing ; but I had another
string to my bow in the shape of the workman Dunn
who also answered to the description which had been
given me ; so I lugged poor Anderson over into Hicks
" It was late for the visit I proposed, but not too
late, if Dunn was also the orator who, surprised by a
raid I had not been let into, would be making for his
home, if only to establish an alibi. The subway was
near, and I calculated on his using it, but we took a
taxicab and so arrived in Hicks Street some few
minutes before him. The result you know. Ander-
AN ANTIDOTE FOR OLD AGE 127
son recognised the man as the one whom he saw
washing his hands in the snow outside of the Cler-
mont, and the man, seeing himself discovered, owned
himself to be Brotherson and made no difficulty about
accompanying us the next day to the coroner's office.
' You have heard how be bore himself; what his
explanations were and how completely they fitted in
with the preconceived notions of the Inspector and
the District Attorney. In consequence, Miss Chal-
loner's death is looked upon as a suicide the impul-
sive act of a woman who sees the man she may have
scouted but whom she secretly loves, turn away from
her in all probability forever. A weapon was in her
hand she impulsively used it, and another deplor-
able suicide was added to the melancholy list. Had
I put in my oar at the conference held in the coroner's
office; had I recalled to Dr. Heath the curious case
of Mrs. Spotts, and then identified Brotherson as
the man whose window fronted hers from the oppo-
site tenement, a diversion might have been created
and the outcome been different. But I feared the
experiment. I'm not sufficiently in with the Chief as
yet, nor yet with the Inspector. They might not have
called me a fool you may; but that's different
and they might have listened, but it would doubtless
have been with an air I could not have held up
against, with that fellow's eyes fixed mockingly on
mine. For he and I are pitted for a struggle, and I
do not want to give him the advantage of even a
momentary triumph. He's the most complete master
of himself of any man I ever met, and it will take the
united brain and resolution of the whole force to
128 INITIALS ONLY
bring him to book if he ever is brought to book,
which I doubt. What do you think about it? "
" That you have given me an antidote against old
age," was the ringing and unexpected reply, as the
thoughtful, half-puzzled aspect of the old man
yielded impulsively to a burst of his early enthusiasm.
" If we can get a good grip on the thread you speak
of, and can work ourselves along by it, though it be
by no more than an inch at a time, we shall yet make
our way through this labyrinth of undoubted crime
and earn for ourselves a triumph which will make
some of these raw and inexperienced young fellows
about us stare. Sweetwater, coincidences are possible.
We run upon them every day. But coincidence in
crime! that should make work for a detective, and
we are not afraid of work. There's my hand for
my end of the business."
"And here's mine."
Next minute the two heads were closer than ever
together, and the business had begun.
TIME, CIRCUMSTANCE, AND A VILLAIN'S HEART
u OUR first difficulty is this. We must prove motive.
Now, I do not think it will be so very hard to show
that this Brotherson cherished feelings of revenge to-
wards Miss Challoner. But I have to acknowledge
right here and now that the most skilful and vigour-
ous pumping of the janitor and such other tenants
of the Hicks Street tenement as I have dared to ap-
proach, fails to show that he has ever held any com-
munication with Mrs. Spotts, or even knew of her
existence until her remarkable death attracted his at-
tention. I have spent all the afternoon over this,
and with no result. A complete break in the chain
at the very start."
" Humph ! we will set that down, then, as so much
" The next, and this is a bitter pill too, is the al-
most insurmountable difficulty already recognised of
determining how a man, without approaching his vic-
tim, could manage to inflict a mortal stab in her breast.
No cloak of complete invisibility has yet been found,
even by the cleverest criminals."
" True. The problem is such as a nightmare of-
fers. For years my dreams have been haunted by a
gnome who proposes just such puzzles."
" But there's an answer to everything, and I'm sure
there's an answer to this. Remember his business.
1 30 INITIALS ONLY
He's an inventor, with startling ideas. So much I've
seen for myself. You may stretch probabilities a lit-
tle in his case; and with this conceded, we may add
by way of off-set to the difficulties you mention, coinci-
dences of time and circumstance, and his villainous
heart. Oh, I know that I am prejudiced; but wait
and see ! Miss Challoner was well rid of him even
at the cost of her life."
" She loved him. Even her father believes that
now. Some lately discovered letters have come to
light to prove that she was by no means so heart free
as he supposed. One of her friends, it seems, has
also confided to him that once, while she and Miss
Challoner were sitting together, she caught Miss Chal-
loner in the act of scribbling capitals over a sheet of
paper. They were all B.s with the exception of here
and there a neatly turned O, and when her friend
twitted her with her fondness for these two letters,
and suggested a pleasing monogram, Miss Challoner
answered, ' O. B. (transferring the letters, as you
see) are the initials of the finest man in the world.' '
" Gosh ! has he heard this story? "
' The gentleman in question."
" I don't think so. It was told me in confidence."
1 Told you, Mr. Gryce? Pardon my curiosity."
" By Mr. Challoner."
"Oh! by Mr. Challoner."
" He is greatly distressed at having the disgraceful
suggestion of suicide attached to his daughter's
TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCE 131
name. Notwithstanding the circumstances, not-
withstanding his full recognition of her secret pre-
dilection for a man of whom he had never heard till
the night of her death, he cannot believe that she
struck the blow she did, intentionally. He sent for
me in order to inquire if anything could be done to re-
instate her in public opinion. He dared not insist
that another had wielded the weapon which laid her
low so suddenly, but he asked if, in my experience, it
had never been known that a woman, hyper-sensitive
to some strong man's magnetic influence, should so
follow his thought as to commit an act which never
could have arisen in her own mind, uninfluenced.
He evidently does not like Brotherson either."
"And what what did you say?" asked
Sweetwater, with a halting utterance and his face
full of thought.
" I simply quoted the latest authority on hyno-
tism, that no person even in hypnotic sleep could be
influenced by another to do what was antagonistic to
his natural instincts."
" Latest authority. That doesn't mean a final
one. Supposing that it was hypnotism ! But that
wouldn't account for Mrs. Spotts' death. Her
wound certainly was not a self-inflicted one."
" How can you be sure? "
' There was no weapon found in the room, or in
the court. The snow was searched and the children
too. No weapon, Mr. Gryce, not even a paper-cut-
ter. Besides but how did Mr. Challoner take
what you said? Was he satisfied with this assur-
i 3 2 INITIALS ONLY
" He had to be. I didn't dare to hold out any
hope based on so unsubstantial a theory. But the
interview had this effect upon me. If the possi-
bility remains of fixing guilt elsewhere than on Miss
Challoner's inconsiderate impulse, I am ready to de-
vote any amount of time and strength to the work.
To see this grieving father relieved from the worst
part of his burden is worth some effort and now you
know why I have listened so eagerly to you. Sweet-
water, I will go with you to the Superintendent. We
may not gain his attention and again we may. If we
don't but we won't cross that bridge prematurely.
When will you be ready for this business? "
" I must be at Headquarters to-morrow."
" Good, then let it be to-morrow. A taxicab,
Sweetwater. The subway for the young. I can
no longer manage the stairs."
" IT is true ; there seems to be something extraordi-
nary in the coincidence."
Thus Mr. Brotherson, in the presence of the In-
" But that is all there is to it," he easily proceeded.
" I knew Miss Challoner and I have already said
how much and how little I had to do with her death.
The other woman I did not know at all; I did not
even know her name. A prosecution based on
grounds so flimsy as those you advance would savour
of persecution, would it not? "
The Inspector, surprised by this unexpected attack,
regarded the speaker with an interest rather aug-
mented than diminished by his boldness. The smile
with which he had uttered these concluding words yet
lingered on his lips, lighting up features of a mould
too suggestive of command to be associated readily
with guilt. That the impression thus produced was
favourable, was evident from the tone of the In-
" We have said nothing about prosecution, Mr.
Brotherson. We hope to avoid any such extreme
measures, and that we may the more readily do so,
we have given you this opportunity to make such ex-
planations as the situation, which you yourself have
characterised as remarkable, seems to call for."
i 34 INITIALS ONLY
" I am ready. But what am I called upon to ex-
plain? I really cannot see, sir. Knowing nothing
more about either case than you do, I fear that I
shall not add much to your enlightenment."
" You can tell us why with your seeming culture
and obvious means, you choose to spend so much
time in a second-rate tenement like the one in Hicks
Again that chill smile preceding the quiet answer :
" Have you seen my room there ? It is piled to the
ceiling with books. When I was a poor man, I chose
the abode suited to my purse and my passion for first-
rate reading. As I grew better off, my time became
daily more valuable. I have never seen the hour
when I felt like moving that precious collection. Be-
sides, I am a man of the people. I like the working
class, and am willing to be thought one of them. I
can find time to talk to a hard-pushed mechanic as
easily as to such members of the moneyed class as
I encounter on stray evenings at the Hotel Clermont.
I have led I may say that I am leading a
double life; but of neither am I ashamed, nor have
I cause to be. Love drove me to ape the gentleman
in the halls of the Clermont; a broad human interest
in the work of the world, to live as a fellow among
the mechanics of Hicks Street."
" But why make use of one name as a gentleman of
leisure and quite a different one as the honest work-
" Ah, there you touch upon my real secret. I have
a reason for keeping my identity quiet till my inven-
tion is completed."
A CONCESSION 135)
" A reason connected with your anarchistic tenden-
" Possibly." But the word was uttered in a way
to carry little conviction. " I am not much of an
anarchist," he now took the trouble to declare, with
a careless lift of his shoulders. " I like fair play, but
I shall never give you much trouble by my manner
of insuring it. I have too much at stake. My in-
vention is dearer to me than the overthrow of pres-
ent institutions. Nothing must stand in the way of
its success, not even the satisfaction of inspiring ter-
ror in minds shut to every other species of argument.
I have uttered my last speech ; you can rely on me for
" We are glad to hear it, Mr. Dunn. Physical
overthrow carries more than the immediate sufferer
If this were meant as an irritant, it did not act suc-
cessfully. The social agitator, the political dema-
gogue, the orator whose honeyed tones had rung
with biting invective in the ears of the United
Brotherhood of the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel,
simply bowed and calmly waited for the next
Perhaps it was of a nature to surprise even him.
" We have no wish," continued the Inspector, " to
probe too closely into concerns seemingly quite re-
moved from the main issue. You say that you arc
ready, nay more, are even eager to answer all ques-
tions. You will probably be anxious then to explain
away a discrepancy between your word and your con-
duct, which has come to our attention. You were
136 INITIALS ONLY
known to have expressed the intention of spending
the afternoon of Mrs. Spotts' death in New York
and were supposed to have done so, yet you were cer-
tainly seen in the crowd which invaded that rear
building at the first alarm. Are you conscious of
possessing a double, or did you fail to cross the river
as you expected to? "
" I am glad this has come up." The tone was one
of self-congratulation which would have shaken
Sweetwater sorely had he been admitted to this un-
official examination. " I have never confided to any
one the 3tory of my doings on that unhappy after-
noon, because I knew of no one who would take any
interest in them. But this is what occurred. I did
mean to go to New York and I even started on my
walk to the Bridge at the hour mentioned. But I
got into a small crowd on the corner of Fulton
Street, in which a poor devil who had robbed a
vendor's cart of a few oranges, was being hustled
about There was no policeman within sight, and so
I busied myself there for a minute paying for the
oranges and dragging the poor wretch away into an
alley, where I could have the pleasure of seeing him
eat them. When I came out of the alley the small
crowd had vanished, but a big one was collecting up
the street very near my home. I always think of my
books when I see anything suggesting fire, and natu-
rally I returned, and equally naturally, when I heard
what had happened, followed the crowd into the
court and so up to the poor woman's doorway. But
my curiosity satisfied, I returned at once to the street
and went to New York as I had planned."
A CONCESSION 137
" Do you mind telling us where you went in New
" Not at all. I went shopping. I wanted a cer-
tain very fine wire, for an experiment I had on hand,
and I found it in a little shop in Fourth Avenue. If
I remember rightly, the name over the door was Grip-
pus. Its oddity struck me."
There was nothing left to the Inspector but to
dismiss him. He had answered all questions will-
ingly, and with a countenance inexpressive of guile.
He even indulged in a parting shot on his own ac-
count, as full of frank acceptance of the situation
as it was fearless in i.ts attack. As he halted in the
doorway before turning his back upon the room, he
smiled for the third time as he quietly said:
" I have ceased visiting my friend's apartment in
upper New York. If you ever want me again, you
will find me amongst my books. If my invention
halts and other interests stale, you have furnished me
this day with a problem which cannot fail to give
continual occupation to my energies. If I succeed
in solving it first, I shall be happy to share my knowl-
edge with you. Till then, trust the laws of nature.
No man when once on the outside of a door can
button it on the inside, nor could any one without the
gift of complete invisibility, make a leap of over fif-
teen feet from the sill of a fourth story window on
to an adjacent fire escape, without attracting the at-
tention of some of the many children playing down
He was half-way out the door, but his name quickly
spoken by the Inspector drew him back.
i 3 8 INITIALS ONLY
" Anything more? " he asked.
The Inspector smiled.
" You are a man of considerable analytic power, as
I take it, Mr. Brotherson. You must have decided
long ago how this woman died."
" Is that a question, Inspector? "
" You may take it as such."
" Then I will allow myself to say that there is but
one common-sense view to take of the matter. Miss
Challoner's death was due to suicide; so was that of
the washerwoman. But there I stop. As for the
means the motive such mysteries may be within
your province but they are totally outside mine !
God help us all! The world is full of misery.
Again I wish you good-day."
The air seemed to have lost its vitality and the
sun its sparkle when he was gone.
" Now, what do you think, Gryce? "
The old man rose and came out of his corner.
'This: that I'm up against the hardest proposi-
tion of my lifetime. Nothing in the man's appear-
ance or manner evinces guilt, yet I believe him guilty.
I must. Not to, is to strain probability to the point
of breakage. But how to reach him is a problem
and one of no ordinary nature. Years ago, when I
was but little older than Sweetwater, I had just such a
conviction concerning a certain man against whom I
had even less to vork on than we have here. A mur-
der had been committed by an envenomed spring con-
tained in a toy puzzle. I worked upon the conscience
of the suspect in that case, by bringing constantly
A CONCESSION 139
before his eyes a facsimile of that spring. It
met him in the folded napkin which he opened at his
restaurant dinner. He stumbled upon it in the street,
and found it lying amongst his papers at home. I
gave him no relief and finally he succumbed. He had
been almost driven mad by remorse. But this man
has no conscience. If he is not innocent as the day,
he's as hard as unquarried marble. He might be
confronted with reminders of his crime at every turn
without weakening or showing by loss of appetite
or interrupted sleep any effect upon his nerves.
That's my opinion of the gentleman. He is either
that, or a man of uncommon force and self-
" I'm inclined to believe him the latter."
" And so give the whole matter the go-by? "
" It will be a terrible disappointment to Sweet-
" That's nothing."
" And to me."
" That's different. I'm disposed to consider you,
Gryce after all these years."
" Thank you ; I have done the state some service."
"What do you want? You say the mine is un-
" Yes, in a day, or in a week, possibly in a month.
But persistence and a protean adaptability to meet
his moods might accomplish something. I don't say
will, I only say might. If Sweetwater had the job,
with unlimited time in which to carry out any plan
he may have, or even for a change of plans to suit
1 40 INITIALS ONLY
a changed idea, success might be his, and both time,
effort and outlay justified."
"The outlay? I am thinking of the outlay."
" Mr. Challoner will see to that. I have his word
that no reasonable amount will daunt him."
" But this Brotherson is suspicious. He has an
inventor's secret to hide, if none other. We can't
saddle him with a guy of Sweetwater's appearance
and abnormal loquaciousness."
" Not readily, I own. But time will bring counsel.
Are you willing to help the boy, to help me and pos-
sibly yourself by this venture in the dark? The De-
partment shan't lose money by it; that's all I can
" But it's a big one. Gryce, you shall have your
way. You'll be the only loser if you fail; and you
will fail; take my word for it."
" I wish I could speak as confidently to the con-
trary, but I can't. I can give you my hand though,
Inspector, and Sweetwater's thanks. I can meet the
boy now. An hour ago I didn't know how I was to
THAT'S THE QUESTION
" How many times has he seen you? "
" So that he knows your face and figure? "
" I'm afraid so. He cannot help remembering the
man who faced him in his own room."
" That's unfortunate."
" Damned unfortunate; but one must expect some
sort of a handicap in a game like this. Before I'm
done with him, he'll look me full in the face and
wonder if he's ever seen me before. I wasn't always
a detective. I was a carpenter once, as you know, and
I'll take to the tools again. As soon as I'm handy
with them I'll hunt up lodgings in Hicks Street. He
may suspect me at first, but he won't long; I'll be
such a confounded good workman. I only wish I
hadn't such pronounced features. They've stood aw-
fully in my way, Mr. Gryce. I don't like to talk
about my appearance, but I'm so confounded plain
that people remember me. Why couldn't I have had
one of those putty faces which don't mean anything?
It would have been a deuced sight more convenient.'*
' You've done very well as it is."
" But I want to do better. I want to deceive him
to his face. He's clever, this same Brotherson, and
there's glory to be got in making a fool of him. Do
you think it could be done with a beard? I've never
i 4 2 INITIALS ONLY
worn a beard. While I'm settling back into my old
trade, I can let the hair. grow."
" Do. It'll make you look as weak as water.
It'll be blonde, of course."
" And silky and straggling. Charming addition
to my beauty. But it'll take half an inch off my nose,
and it'll cover my mouth, which means a lot in my
case. Then my complexion! It must be changed
naturally. I'll consult a doctor about that. No sort
of make-believe will go with this man. If my eyes
look weak, they must really be so. If I walk slowly
and speak huskily, it must be because I cannot help
it. I can bear the slight inconvenience of temporary
ill-health in a cause like this; and if necessary the
cough will be real, and the headache positive."
" Sweetwater 1 We'd better give the task to an-
other man to someone Brotherson has never seen
and won't be suspicious of? "
" He'll be suspicious of everybody who tries to
make friends with him now; only a little more so with
me; that's all. But I've got to meet that, and I'll do
it by being, temporarily, of course, exactly the man
I seem. My health will not be good for the next
few weeks, I'm sure of that. But I'll be a model
workman, neat and conscientious with just a suspicion
of dash where dash is needed. He knows the real
thing when he sees it, and there's not a fellow living
more alive to shams. I won't be a sham. I'll be it.
" But the doubt. Can you do all this in doubt of
the issue? "
" No ; I must have confidence in the end, and I
THAT'S THE QUESTION 143
must believe in his guilt. Nothing else will carry me
through. I must believe in his guilt."
" Yes, that's essential."
" And I do. I never was surer of anything than
I am of that. But I'll have the deuce of a time to get
evidence enough for a grand jury. That's plainly to
be seen, and that's why I'm so dead set on the busi-
ness. It's such an even toss-up."
" I don't call it even. He's got the start of you
every way. You can't go to his tenement ; the janitor
there would recognise you even if he didn't."
" Now I will give you a piece of good news.
They're to have a new janitor next week. I learned
that yesterday. The present one is too easy. He'll
be out long before I'm ready to show myself there;
and so will the woman who took care of the poor
washerwoman's little child. I'd not have risked her
curiosity. Luck isn't all against us. How does Mr.
Challoner feel about it?"
" Not very confident; but willing to give you any
amount of rope. Sweetwater, he let me have a batch
of letters written by his daughter which he found in
a secret drawer. They are not to be read, or even
opened, unless a great necessity arises. They were
written for Brotherson's eye or so the father says :
but she never sent them; too exuberant perhaps.
If you ever want them I cannot give them to you
to-night, and wouldn't if I could, don't go to Mr.
Challoner you must never be seen at his hotel
and don't come to me, but to the little house in West
Twenty-ninth Street, where they will be kept for
you, tied up in a package with your name on it. By
i 4 4 INITIALS ONLY
the way, what name are you going to work un-
" My mother's Zugg."
" Good ! I'll remember. You can always write
or even telephone to Twenty-ninth Street. I'm in
constant communication with them there, and it's
" Thanks. You're sure the Superintendent is with
' Yes, but not the Inspector. He sees nothing but
the victim of a strange coincidence in Orlando
" Again the scales hang even. But they won't re-
main so. One side is bound to rise. Which?
That's the question, Mr. Gryce."
THERE was a new tenant in the Hicks Street tene-
ment. He arrived late one afternoon and was
shown two rooms, one in the rear building and an-
other in the front one. Both were on the fourth
floor. He demurred at the former, thought it
gloomy but finally consented to try it. The other,
he said, was too expensive. The janitor new to
the business was not much taken with him and
showed it, which seemed to offend the newcomer,
who was evidently an irritable fellow owing to ill
However, they came to terms as I have said, and
the man went away, promising to send in his be-
longings the next day. He smiled as he said this
and the janitor who had rarely seen such a change
take place in a human face, looked uncomfortable
for a moment and seemed disposed to make some
remark about the room they were leaving. But,
thinking better of it, locked the door and led the way
downstairs. As the prospective tenant followed, he
may have noticed, probably did, that the door they
had just left was a new one the only new thing
to be seen in the whole shabby place.
The next night that door was locked on the inside.
The young man had taken possession. As he put
away the remnants of a meal he had cooked for him-
i 4 6 INITIALS ONLY
self, he cast a look at his surroundings, and imper-
ceptibly sighed. Then he brightened again, and sit-
ting down on his solitary chair, he turned his eyes
on the window which, uncurtained and without shade,
stared open-mouthed, as it were, at the opposite wall
rising high across the court.
In that wall, one window only seemed to interest
him and that was on a level with his own. The
shade of this window was up, but there was no light
back of it and so nothing of the interior could be
seen. But his eye remained fixed upon it, while his
hand, stretched out towards the lamp burning near
him, held itself in readiness to lower the light at a
Did he see only the opposite wall and that unil-
lumined window? Was there no memory of the
time when, in a previous contemplation of those dis-
mal panes, he beheld stretching between them and
himself, a long, low bench with a plain wooden tub
upon it, from which a dripping cloth beat out upon
the boards beneath a dismal note, monotonous as the
ticking of a clock?
One might judge that such memories were indeed
his, from the rapid glance he cast behind him at the
place where the bed had stood in those days. It was
placed differently now.
But if he saw, and if he heard these suggestions
from the past, he was not less alive to the exactions
of the present, for, as his glance flew back across the
court, his finger suddenly moved and the flame it
controlled sputtered and went out. At the same
instant, the window opposite sprang into view as
the lamp was lit within, and for several minutes the
whole interior remained visible the books, the
work-table, the cluttered furniture, and, most inter-
esting of all, its owner and occupant. It was upon
the latter that the newcomer fixed his attention, and
with an absorption equal to that he saw expressed in
the countenance opposite.
But his was the absorption of watchfulness; that
of the other of introspection. Mr. Brotherson
(we will no longer call him Dunn even here where he
is known by no other name) had entered the room
clad in his heavy overcoat and, not having taken it
off before lighting his lamp, still stood with it on,
gazing eagerly down at the model occupying the
place of honour on the large centre table. He was
not touching it, not at this moment but that his
thoughts were with it, that his whole mind was con-
centrated on it, was evident to the watcher across
the court; and, as this watcher took in this fact and
noticed the loving care with which the enthusiastic
inventor finally put out his finger to re-arrange a
thread or twirl a wheel, his disappointment found ut-
terance in a sigh which echoed sadly through the dull
and cheerless room. Had he expected this stern and
self-contained man to show an open indifference to
work and the hopes of a lifetime? If so, this was
the first of the many surprises awaiting him.
He was gifted, however, with the patience of an
automaton and continued to watch his fellow tenant
as long as the latter's shade remained up. When it
fell, he rose and took a few steps up and down, but not
with the celerity and precision which usually accom-
i 4 8 INITIALS ONLY
panied his movements. Doubt disturbed his mind
and impeded his activity. He had caught a fair
glimpse of Brotherson's face as he approached the
window, and though it continued to show abstrac-
tion, it equally displayed serenity and a complete sat-
isfaction with the present if not with the future.
Had he mistaken his man after all? Was his in-
stinct, for the first time in his active career, wholly at
He had succeeded in getting a glimpse of his
quarry in the privacy of his own room, at home with
his thoughts and unconscious of any espionage, and
how had he found him? Cheerful, and natural in
all his movements.
But the evening was young. Retrospect comes
with later and more lonely hours. There will be
opportunities yet for studying this impassive coun-
tenance under much more telling and productive cir-
cumstances than these. He would await these op-
portunities with cheerful anticipation. Meanwhile,
he would keep up the routine watch he had planned
for this night. Something might yet occur. At all
events he would have exhausted the situation from
And so it came to pass that at an hour when all
the other hard-working people in the building were
asleep, or at least striving to sleep, these two men still
sat at their work, one in the light, the other in the
darkness, facing each other, consciously to the one,
unconsciously to the other, across the hollow well of
the now silent court. Eleven o'clock! Twelve!
No change on Brotherson's part or in Brotherson's
room; but a decided one in the place where Sweet-
water sat. Objects which had been totally indis-
tinguishable even to his penetrating eye could now be
seen in ever brightening outline. The moon had
reached the open space above the court, and he was
getting the full benefit of it. But it was a benefit
he would have been glad to dispense with. Dark-
ness was like a shield to him. He did not feel quite
sure that he wanted this shield removed. With no
curtain to the window and no shade, and all this bril-
liance pouring into the room, he feared the disclosure
of his presence there, or, if not that, some effect on
his own mind of those memories he was more anx-
ious to see mirrored in another's discomfiture than
in his own.
Was it to escape any lack of concentration which
these same memories might bring, that he rose and
stepped to the window? Or was it under one of
those involuntary impulses which move us in spite of
ourselves to do the very thing our judgment disap-
No sooner had he approached the sill than Mr.
Brotherson's shade flew way up and he, too, looked
out. Their glances met, and for an instant the hardy
detective experienced that involuntary stagnation of
the blood which follows an inner shock. He felt
that he had been recognised. The moonlight lay full
upon his face, and the other had seen and known him.
Else, why the constrained attitude and sudden rigidity
observable in this confronting figure, with its partially
lifted hand? A man like Brotherson makes no pause
in any action however trivial, without a reason.
1 5 o INITIALS ONLY
Either he had been transfixed by this glimpse of his
enemy on watch, or daring thought ! had seen
enough of sepulchral suggestion in the wan face look-
ing forth from this fatal window to shake him from
his composure and let loose the grinning devil of re-
morse from its iron prison-house? If so, the move-
ment was a memorable one, and the hazard quite
worth while. He had gained no ! he had gained
nothing. He had been the fool of his own wishes.
No one, let alone Brotherson, could have mistaken his
face for that of a woman. He had forgotten his
newly-grown beard. Some other cause must be
found for the other's attitude. It savoured of shock,
if not fear. If it were fear, then had he roused an
emotion which might rebound upon himself in sharp
reprisal. Death had been known to strike people
standing where he stood; mysterious death of a spe-
cies quite unrecognisable. What warranty had he
that it would not strike him, and now ? None.
Yet it was Brotherson who moved first. With a
shrug of the shoulder plainly visible to the man op-
posite, he turned away from the window and with-
out lowering the shade, began gathering up his pa-
pers for the night, and later banking up his stove
Sweetwater, with a breath of decided relief,
stepped back and threw himself on the bed. It had
really been a trial for him to stand there under the
other's eye, though his mind refused to formulate his
fear, or to give him any satisfaction when he asked
himself what there was in the situation suggestive of
death to the woman or harm to himself.
Nor did morning light bring counsel, as is usual
in similar cases. He felt the mystery more in the
hubbub and restless turmoil of the day than in the
night's silence and inactivity. He was glad when the
stroke of six gave him an excuse to leave the room,
and gladder yet when in doing so, he ran upon an
old woman from a neighbouring room, who no sooner
saw him than she leered at him and eagerly re-
"Not much sleep, eh? We didn't think you'd
like it. Did you see anything? "
Now this gave him the one excuse he wanted.
"See anything?" he repeated, apparently with
all imaginable innocence. " What do you mean by
" Don't you know what happened in that room ? "
" Don't tell me ! " he shouted out " I don't want
to hear any nonsense. I haven't time. I've got to
be at the shop at seven and I don't feel very well.
What did happen?" he mumbled in drawing off,
just loud enough for the woman to hear. " Some-
thing unpleasant I'm sure." Then he ran down-
At half past six he found the janitor. He was,
to all appearance, in a state of great excitement and
he spoke very fast.
" I won't stay another night in that room," he
loudly declared, breaking in where the family were
eating breakfast by lamplight. " I don't want to
make any trouble and I don't want to give
my reasons; but that room don't suit me. I'd
rather take the dark one you talked about yesterday.
i 5 2 INITIALS ONLY
There's the money. Have my things moved to-day,
" But your moving out after one night's stay will
give that room a bad name," stammered the janitor,
rising awkwardly. " There'll be talk and I won't
be able to let that room all winter."
" Nonsense ! Every man hasn't the nerves I have.
You'll let it in a week. But let or not let, I'm go-
ing front into the little dark room. I'll get the boss
to let me off at half past four. So that's settled."
He waited for no reply and got none ; but when he
appeared promptly at a quarter to five, he found his
few belongings moved into a middle room on the
fourth floor of the front building, which, oddly per-
haps, chanced to be next door to the one he had held
under watch the night before.
The first page of his adventure in the Hicks Street
tenement had been turned, and he was ready to start
IN WHICH A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART
WHEN Mr. Brotherson came in that night, he no-
ticed that the door of the room adjoining his own
stood open. He did not hesitate. Making imme-
diately for it, he took a glance inside, then spoke up
with a ringing intonation :
" Halloo! coming to live in this hole? "
The occupant a young man, evidently a work-
man and somewhat sickly if one could judge from
his complexion turned around from some tinker-
ing he was engaged in and met the intruder fairly,
face to face. If his jaw fell, it seemed to be from
admiration. No other emotion would have so
lighted his eye as he took in the others proportions
and commanding features. No dress Brotherson
was never seen in any other than the homeliest garb
in these days could make him look common or
akin to his surroundings. Whether seen near or far,
his presence always caused surprise, and surprise was
what the young man showed, as he answered briskly :
" Yes, this is to be my castle. Are you the owner
of the buildings? If so "
" I am not the owner. I live next door. Haven't
I seen you before, young man ? "
Never was there a more penetrating eye than Or-
lando Brotherson's. As he asked this question it
took some effort on the part of the other to hold his
I 5 4 INITIALS ONLY
own and laugh with perfect naturalness as he replied :
" If you ever go up Henry Street it's likely enough
that you've seen me not once, but many times. I'm
the fellow who works at the bench next the window in
Schuper's repairing shop. Everybody knows me."
Audacity often carries the day when subtler
means would fail. Brotherson stared at the youth,
then ventured another question :
" A carpenter, eh? "
' Yes, and I'm an Ai man at my job. Excuse my
brag. It's my one card of introduction."
" I've seen you. I've seen you somewhere else
than in Schuper's shop. Do you remember me? "
" No, sir ; I'm sorry to be imperlite but I don't
remember you at all. Won't you sit down? It's
not very cheerful, but I'm so glad to get out of the
room I was in last night that this looks all right to
me. Back there, other building," he whispered. " I
didn't know, and took the room which had a window
in it; but " The stop was significant; so was his
smile which had a touch of sickliness in it, as well
But Brotherson was not to be caught.
' You slept in the building last night ? In the
other half, I mean? "
" Yes, I slept."
The strong lip of the older man curled disdain-
" I saw you," said he. " You were standing in
the window overlooking the court. You were not
sleeping then. I suppose you know that a woman
died in that room? "
' Yes; they told me so this morning."
" Was that the first you'd heard of it? "
" Sure ! " The word almost jumped at the ques-
tioner. " Do you suppose I'd have taken the room
But here the intruder, with a disdainful grunt,
turned and went out, disgust in every feature,
plain, unmistakable, downright disgust, and nothing
This was what gave Sweetwater his second bad
night; this and a certain discovery he made. He
had counted on hearing what went on in the neigh-
bouring room through the partition running back of
his own closet. But he could hear nothing, unless it
was the shutting down of a window, a loud sneeze,
or the rattling of coals as they were put on the fire.
And these possessed no significance. What he
wanted was to catch the secret sigh, the muttered
word, the involuntary movement. He was too far
removed from this man still.
How should he manage to get nearer him
at the door of his mind of his heart? Sweetwa-
ter stared all night from his miserable cot into the
darkness of that separating closet, and with no re-
sult. His task looked hopeless; no wonder that he
could get no rest.
Next morning he felt ill, but he rose all the same,
and tried to get his own breakfast. He had but
partially succeeded and was sitting on the edge of his
bed in wretched discomfort, when the very man he
was thinking of appeared at his door.
" I've come to see how you are," said Brotherson.
156 INITIALS ONLY
" I noticed that you did not look well last night.
Won't you come in and share my pot of coffee? "
"I I can't eat," mumbled Sweetwater, for
once in his life thrown completely off his balance.
" You're very kind, but I'll manage all right. I'd
rather. I'm not quite dressed, you see, and I must
get to the shop." Then he thought "What an
opportunity I'm losing. Have I any right to turn
tail because he plays his game from the outset with
trumps? No, I've a small trump somewhere about
me to lay on this trick. It isn't an ace, but it'll show
I'm not chicane." And smiling, though not with his
usual cheerfulness, Sweetwater added, " Is the coffee
all made? I might take a drop of that. But you
mustn't ask me to eat I just couldn't."
' Yes, the coffee is made and it isn't bad either.
You'd better put on your coat; the hall's draughty."
And waiting till Sweetwater did so, he led the way
back to his own room. Brotherson's manner ex-
pressed perfect ease, Sweetwater's not. He knew
himself changed in looks, in bearing, in feeling, even ;
but was he changed enough to deceive this man on
the very spot where they had confronted each other
a few days before in a keen moral struggle? The
looking-glass he passed on his way to the table where
the simple breakfast was spread out, showed him a
figure so unlike the alert, business-like chap he had
been that night, that he felt his old assurance revive
in time to ease a situation which had no counterpart
in his experience.
" I'm going out myself to-day, so we'll have to
hurry a bit," was Brotherson's first remark as they
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 157
seated themselves at table. " Do you like your cof-
fee plain or with milk in it? "
" Plain. Gosh ! what pictures 1 Where do you
get 'em? You must have a lot of coin." Sweetwa-
ter was staring at the row of photographs, mostly of
a very high order, tacked along the wall separating
the two rooms. They were unframed, but they were
mostly copies of great pictures, and the effect was
rather imposing in contrast to the shabby furniture
and the otherwise homely fittings.
" Yes, I've enough for that kind of thing," was his
host's reply. But the tone was reserved, and Sweet-
water did not presume again along this line. In-
stead, he looked well at the books piled upon the
shelves under these photographs, and wondered
aloud at their number and at the man who could
waste such a lot of time in reading them. But he
made no more direct remarks. Was he cowed by
the penetrating eye he encountered whenever he
yielded to the fascination exerted by Mr. Brother-
son's personality and looked his way? He hated to
think so, yet something held him in check and made
him listen, open-mouthed, when the other chose to
Yet there was one cheerful moment. It was when
he noticed the careless way in which those books were
arranged upon their shelves. An idea had come to
him. He hid his relief in his cup, as he drained the
last drops of the coffee which really tasted better
than he had expected.
When he returned from work that afternoon it
was with an auger under his coat and a conviction
i 5 8 INITIALS ONLY
which led him to empty out the contents of a small
phial which he took down from a shelf. He had
told Mr. Gryce that he was eager for the business
because of its difficulties, but that was when he was
feeling fine and up to any game which might come
his way. Now he felt weak and easily discouraged.
This would not do. He must regain his health at
all hazards, so he poured out the mixture which had
given him such a sickly air. This done and a rude
supper eaten, he took up his auger. He had heard
Mr. Brotherson's step go by. But next minute he
laid it down again in great haste and flung a news-
paper over it. Mr. Brotherson was coming back,
had stopped at his door, had knocked and must be
' You're better this evening," he heard in those
kindly tones which so confused and irritated him.
" Yes," was the surly admission. " But it's
stifling here. If I have to live long in this hole I'll
dry up from want of air. It's near the shop or I
wouldn't stay out the week." Twice this day he had
seen Brotherson's tall figure stop before the window
of this shop and look in at him at his bench. But he
said nothing about that.
' Yes," agreed the other, " it's no way to live.
But you're alone. Upstairs there's a whole family
huddled into a room just like this. Two of the kids
sleep in the closet. It's things like that which have
made me the friend of the poor, and the mortal en-
emy of men and women who spread themselves over
a dozen big rooms and think themselves ill-used if
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 159
the gas burns poorly or a fireplace smokes. I'm off
for the evening; anything I can do for you? "
" Show me how I can win my way into such rooms
as you've just talked about. Nothing less will make
me look up. I'd like to sleep in one to-night. In
the best bedroom, sir. I'm ambitious; I am."
A poor joke, though they both laughed. Then
Mr. Brotherson passed on, and Sweetwater listened
till he was sure that his too attentive neighbour had
really gone down the three flights between him and
the street. Then he took up his auger again and
shut himself up in his closet.
There was nothing peculiar about this closet. It
was just an ordinary one with drawers and shelves
on one side, and an open space on the other for the
hanging up of clothes. Very few clothes hung there
at present ; but it was in this portion of the closet that
he stopped and began to try the wall of Brotherson's
room, with the butt end of the tool he carried.
The sound seemed to satisfy him, for very soon
he was boring a hole at a point exactly level with his
car; but not without frequent pauses and much
attention given to the possible return of those de-
parted foot-steps. He remembered that Mr. Broth-
erson had a way of coming back on unexpected er-
rands after giving out his intention of being absent
Sweetwater did not want to be caught in any such
trap as that; so he carefully followed every sound
that reached him from the noisy halls. But he did
not forsake his post; he did not have to. Mr.
160 INITIALS ONLY
Brotherson had been sincere in his good-bye, and the
auger finished its job and was withdrawn without
any interruption from the man whose premises had
been thus audaciously invaded.
" Neat as well as useful," was the gay comment
with which Sweetwater surveyed his work, then laid
his ear to the hole. Whereas previously he could
barely hear the rattling of coals from the coal-scuttle,
he was now able to catch the sound of an ash falling
into the ash-pit.
His next move was to test the depth of the parti-
tion by inserting his finger in the hole he had made.
He found it stopped by some obstacle before it had
reached half its length, and anxious to satisfy him-
self of the nature of this obstacle, he gently moved
the tip of his finger to and fro over what was cer-
tainly the edge of a book.
This proved that his calculations had been correct
and that the opening so accessible on his side, was
completely veiled on the other by the books he had
seen packed on the shelves. As these shelves had
no other backing than the wall, he had feared strik-
ing a spot not covered by a book. But he had not
undertaken so risky a piece of work without first
noting how nearly the tops of the books approached
the line of the shelf above them, and the consequent
unlikelihood of his striking the space between, at the
height he planned the hole. He had even been care-
ful to assure himself that all the volumes at this ex-
act point stood far enough forward to afford room
behind them for the chips and plaster he must neces-
sarily push through with his auger, and also im-
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 161
portant consideration for the free passage of the
sounds by which he hoped to profit.
As he listened for a moment longer, and then
stooped to gather up the debris which had fallen on
his own side of the partition, he muttered, in his old
self-congratulatory way :
" If the devil don't interfere in some way best
known to himself, this opportunity I have made for
myself of listening to this arrogant fellow's very
heartbeats should give me some clew to his secret.
As soon as I can stand it, I'll spend my evenings at
But it was days before he could trust himself so
far. Meanwhile their acquaintance ripened, though
with no very satisfactory results. The detective
found himself led into telling stories of his early
home-life to keep pace with the man who always had
something of moment and solid interest to impart.
This was undesirable, for instead of calling out a
corresponding confidence from Brotherson, it only
seemed to make his conversation more coldly imper-
In consequence, Sweetwater suddenly found him-
self quite well and one evening, when he was sure
that his neighbour was at home, he slid softly into
his closet and laid his ear to the opening he had
made there. The result was unexpected. Mr.
Brotherson was pacing the floor, and talking softly
At first, the cadence and full music of the tones
conveyed nothing to our far from literary detective.
The victim of his secret machinations was expressing
1 62 INITIALS ONLY
himself in words, words; that was the point which
counted with him. But as he listened longer and
gradually took in the sense of these words, his heart
went down lower and lower till it reached his boots.
His inscrutable and ever disappointing neighbour
was not indulging in self-communings of any kind.
He was reciting poetry, and what was worse, poetry
which he only half remembered and was trying to re-
call; an incredible occupation for a man weighted
with a criminal secret.
Sweetwater was disgusted, and was withdrawing
in high indignation from his vantage-point when
something occurred of a startling enough nature to
hold him where he was in almost breathless expecta-
The hole which in the darkness of the closet was
always faintly visible, even when the light was not
very strong in the adjoining room, had suddenly be-
come a bright and shining loop-hole, with a sugges-
tion of movement in the space beyond. The book
which had hid this hole on Brotherson's side had
been taken down the one book in all those hun-
dreds whose removal threatened Sweetwater's
schemes, if not himself.
For an instant the thwarted detective listened for
the angry shout or the smothered oath which would
naturally follow the discovery by Brotherson of this
attempted interference with his privacy.
But all was still on his side of the wall. A rust-
ling of leaves could be heard, as the inventor searched
for the poem he wanted, but nothing more. In
withdrawing the book, he had failed to notice the
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 163
hole in the plaster back of it. But he could hardly
fail to see it when he came to put the book back.
Meantime, suspense for Sweetwater.
It was several minutes before he heard Mr. Broth-
erson's voice again, then it was in triumphant repeti-
tion of the lines which had escaped his memory.
They were great words surely and Sweetwater never
forgot them, but the impression which they made
upon his mind, an impression so forcible that he was
able to repeat them, months afterward to Mr.
Gryce, did not prevent him from noting the tone in
which they were uttered, nor the thud which followed
as the book was thrown down upon the floor.
" Fool ! " The word rang out in bitter irony
from his irate neighbour's lips. ;< What does he
know of woman ! Woman ! Let him court a rich
one and see but that's all over and done with.
No more harping on that string, and no more read-
ing of poetry. I'll never, " The rest was lost in
his throat and was quite unintelligible to the anxious
Self-revealing words, which an instant before
would have aroused Sweetwater's deepest interest I
But they had suddenly lost all force for the unhappy
listener. The sight of that hole still shining brightly
before his eyes had distracted his thoughts and
roused his liveliest apprehensions. If that book
should be allowed to lie where it had fallen, then he
was in for a period of uncertainty he shrank from
contemplating. Any moment his neighbour might
look up and catch sight of this hole bored in the
backing of the shelves before him. Could the man
1 64 INITIALS ONLY
who had been guilty of submitting him to this outrage
stand the strain of waiting indefinitely for the mo-
ment of discovery? He doubted it, if the suspense
lasted too long.
Shifting his position, he placed his eye where his
ear had been. He could see. very little. The space
before him, limited as it was to the width of the one
volume withdrawn, precluded his seeing aught but
what lay directly before him. Happily, it was in
this narrow line of vision that Mr. Brotherson stood.
He had resumed work upon his model and was so
placed that while his face was not visible, his hands
were, and as Sweetwater watched these hands and
noticed the delicacy of their manipulation, he was
enough of a workman to realise that work so fine
called for an undivided attention. He need not fear
the gaze shifting, while those hands moved as warily
as they did now.
Relieved for the moment, he left his post and, sit-
ting down on the edge of his cot, gave himself up to
He deserved this mischance. Had he profited
properly by Mr. Gryce's teachings, he would not
have been caught like this ; he would have calculated
not upon the nine hundred and ninety-nine chances
of that book being left alone, but upon the thou-
sandth one of its being the very one to be singled out
and removed. Had he done this, had he taken
pains to so roughen and discolour the opening he had
made, that it would look like an ancient rat hole in-
stead of showing a clean bore, he would have some
answer to give Brotherson when he came to question
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 165
him in regard to it. But now the whole thing seemed
up ! He had shown himself a fool and by good
rights ought to acknowledge his defeat and return to
Headquarters. But he had too much spirit for that.
He would rather yes, he would rather face the
pistol he had once seen in his enemy's hand. Yet it
was hard to sit here waiting, waiting
Suddenly he started upright. He would go meet
his fate be present in the room itself when the
discovery was made which threatened to upset all
his pLas. He was not ashamed of his calling, and
Brotherson would think twice before attacking him
when once convinced that he had the Department
" Excuse me, comrade," were the words with
which he endeavoured to account for his presence at
Brotherson's door. " My lamp smells so, and I've
made such a mess of my work to-day that I've just
stepped in for a chat. If I'm not wanted, say so. I
don't want to bother you, but you do look pleasant
here. I hope the thing I'm turning over in my head
every man has his schemes for making a fortune,
you know will be a success some day. I'd like a
big room like this, and a lot of books, and and
Craning his neck, he took a peep at the shelves,
with an air of open admiration which effectually
concealed his real purpose. What he wanted was
to catch one glimpse of that empty space from his
present standpoint, and he was both astonished and
relieved to note how narrow and inconspicuous it
looked. Certainly, he had less to fear than he sup-
1 66 INITIALS ONLY
posed, and when, upon Mr. Brotherson's invitation,
he stepped into the room, it was with a dash of his
former audacity, which gave him, unfortunately,
perhaps, a quick, strong and unexpected likeness to
his old self.
But if Brotherson noticed this, nothing in his man-
ner gave proof of the fact. Though usually averse
to visitors, especially when employed as at present
on his precious model, he quite warmed towards his
unexpected guest, and even led the way to where it
stood uncovered on the table.
" You find me at work," he remarked. " I don't
suppose you understand any but your own? "
" If you mean to ask if I understand what you're
trying to do there, I'm free to say that I don't. I
couldn't tell now, off-hand, whether it's an air-ship
you're planning, a hydraulic machine or or "
He stopped, with a laugh and turned towards the
book-shelves. " Now here's what / like. These
books just take my eye."
" Look at them, then. I like to see a man inter-
ested in books. Only, I thought if you knew how
to handle wire, I would get you to hold this end
while I work with the other."
" I guess I know enough for that," was Sweetwa-
ter's gay rejoinder. But when he felt that communi-
cating wire in his hand and experienced for the first
time the full influence of the other's eye, it took all
his hardihood to hide the hypnotic thrill it gave him.
Though he smiled and chatted, he could not help ask-
ing himself between whiles, what had killed the poor
washerwoman across the court, and what had killed
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 167
Miss Challoner. Something visible or something in-
visible? Something which gave warning of attack, or
something which struck in silence. He found him-
self gazing long and earnestly at this man's hand,
and wondering if death lay under it. It was a strong
hand, a deft, clean-cut member, formed to respond to
the slightest hint from the powerful brain controlling
it. But was this its whole story. Had he said all
when he had said this?
Fascinated by the question, Sweetwater died a
hundred deaths in his awakened fancy, as he fol-
lowed the sharp short instructions which fell with
cool precision from the other's lips. A hundred
deaths, I say, but with no betrayal of his folly. The
anxiety he showed was that of one eager to please,
which may explain why on the conclusion of his task,
Mr. Brotherson gave him one of his infrequent
smiles and remarked, as he buried the model under
its cover, " You're handy and you're quiet at your
job. Who knows but that I shall want you again.
Will you come if I call you? "
" Won't I ? " was the gay retort, as the detective
thus released, stooped for the book still lying on the
floor. " Paolo and Francesca," he read, from the
back, as he laid it on the table. "Poetry?" he
" Rot," scornfully returned the other, as he
moved to take down a bottle and some glasses from
a cupboard let into another portion of the wall.
Sweetwater taking advantage of the moment,
sidled towards the shelf where that empty space
still gaped with the tell-tale hole at the back. He
i68 INITIALS ONLY
could easily have replaced the missing book before
Mr. Brotherson turned. But the issue was too
doubtful. He was dealing with no absent-minded
fool, and it behooved him to avoid above all things
calling attention to the book or to the place on the
shelf where it belonged.
But there was one thing he could do and did.
Reaching out a finger as deft as Brotherson's own,
he pushed a second volume into the place of the one
that was gone. This veiled the auger-hole com-
pletely; a fact which so entirely relieved his mind
that his old smile came back like sunshine to his lips,
and it was only by a distinct effort that he kept the
dancing humour from his eyes as he prepared to re-
fuse the glass which Brotherson now brought for-
" None of that! " said he. " You mustn't tempt
me. The doctor has shut down on all kinds of spir-
its for two months more, at least. But don't let me
hinder you. I can bear to smell the stuff. My
turn will come again some day."
But Brotherson did not drink. Setting down the
glass he carried, he took up the book lying near,
weighed it in his hand and laid it down again, with
an air of thoughtful inquiry. Then he suddenly
pushed it towards Sweetwater. " Do you want it? "
Sweetwater was too taken aback to answer imme-
diately. This was a move he did not understand.
Want it, he? What he wanted was to see it put back
in its place on the shelf. Did Brotherson suspect
A BOOK PLAYS A LEADING PART 169
this? The supposition was incredible; yet who
could read a mind so mysterious?
Sweetwater, debating the subject, decided that the
risk of adding to any such possible suspicion was less
to be dreaded than the continued threat offered by
that unoccupied space so near the hole which testi-
fied so unmistakably of the means he had taken to
spy upon this suspected man's privacy. So, after a
moment of awkward silence, not out of keeping with
the character he had assumed, he calmly refused the
present as he had the glass.
Unhappily he was not rewarded by seeing the de-
spised volume restored to its shelf. It still lay
where its owner had pushed it, when, with some awk-
wardly muttered thanks, the discomfited detective
withdrew to his own room.
WHAT AM I TO DO NOW
EARLY morning saw Sweetwater peering into the
depths of his closet. The hole was hardly visible.
This meant that the book he had pushed across it
from the other side had not been removed.
Greatly re-assured by the sight, he awaited his op-
portunity, and as soon as a suitable one presented it-
self, prepared the hole for inspection by breaking
away its edges and begriming it well with plaster and
old dirt. This done, he left matters to arrange them-
selves; which they did, after this manner.
Mr. Brotherson suddenly developed a great need
of him, and it became a common thing for him to
spend the half and, sometimes, the whole of the
evening in the neighbouring room. This was just
what he had worked for, and his constant intercourse
with the man whose secret he sought to surprise
should have borne fruit. But it did not. Nothing
in the eager but painstaking inventor showed a dis-
tracted mind or a heavily-burdened soul. Indeed,
he was so calm in all his ways, so precise and so self-
contained, that Sweetwater often wondered what had
become of the fiery agitator and eloquent propa-
gandist of new and startling doctrines.
Then, he thought he understood the riddle. The
model was reaching its completion, and Brotherson's
extreme interest in it and the confidence he had in its
WHAT AM I TO DO NOW 171
success swallowed up all lesser emotions. Were the
invention to prove a failure but there was small
hope of this. The man was of too well-poised a
mind to over-estimate his work or miscalculate its
place among modern improvements. Soon he would
reach the goal of his desires, be praised, feted, made
much of by the very people he now professedly
scorned. There was no thoroughfare for Sweetwa-
ter here. Another road must be found ; some secret,
strange and unforeseen method of reaching a soul in-
accessible to all ordinary or even extraordinary im-
Would a night of thought reveal such a method?
Night! the very word brought inspiration. A man
is not his full self at night. Secrets which, under the
ordinary circumstances of everyday life, lie too deep
for surprise, creep from their hiding-places in the
dismal hours of universal quiet, and lips which are
dumb to the most subtle of questioners break into
strange and self-revealing mutterings when sleep lies
heavy on ear and eye and the forces of life and death
are released to play with the rudderless spirit.
It was in different words from these that Sweet-
water reasoned, no doubt, but his conclusions were
the same, and as he continued to brood over them, he
saw a chance a fool's chance, possibly, (but fools
sometimes win where wise men fail) of reaching
those depths he still believed in, notwithstanding his
failure to sound them.
Addressing a letter to his friend in Twenty-ninth
Street, he awaited reply in the shape of a small pack-
age he had ordered sent to the corner drug-store.
i 7 2 INITIALS ONLY
When it came, he carried it home in a state of min-
gled hope and misgiving. Was he about to cap his
fortnight of disappointment by another signal fail-
ure; end the matter by disclosing his hand; lose all,
or win all by an experiment as daring and possibly
as fanciful as were his continued suspicions of this
seemingly upright and undoubtedly busy man?
He made no attempt to argue the question. The
event called for the exercise of the most dogged ele-
ments in his character and upon these he must rely.
He would make the effort he contemplated, simply
because he was minded to do so. That was all there
was to it. But any one noting him well that night,
would have seen that he ate little and consulted his
watch continually. Sweetwater had not yet passed
the line where work becomes routine and the feel-
ings remain totally under control.
Brotherson was unusually active and alert that
evening. He was anxious to fit one delicate bit of
mechanism into another, and he was continually in-
terrupted by visitors. Some big event was on in the
socialistic world, and his presence was eagerly de-
manded by one brotherhood after another. Sweet-
water, posted at his loop-hole, heard the arguments
advanced by each separate spokesman, followed by
Brotherson's unvarying reply: that when his work
was done and he had proved his right to approach
them with a message, they might look to hear from
him again; but not before. His patience was inex-
haustible, but he showed himself relieved when the
hour grew too late for further interruption. He be-
gan to whistle a token that all was going well with
WHAT AM I TO DO NOW 173
him, and Sweetwater, who had come to understand
some of his moods, looked forward to an hour or two
of continuous work on Brotherson's part and of
dreary and impatient waiting on his own. But, as so
many times before, he misread the man. Earlier than
common much earlier, in fact, Mr. Brotherson laid
down his tools and gave himself up to a restless pac-
ing of the floor. This was not usual with him. Nor
did he often indulge himself in playing on the piano
as he did .to-night, beginning with a few heavenly
strains and ending with a bang that made the key-
board jump. Certainly something was amiss in the
quarter where peace had hitherto reigned undis-
turbed. Had the depths begun to heave, or were
physical causes alone responsible for these unwonted
ebullitions of feeling?
The question was immaterial. Either would
form an excellent preparation for the coup planned by
Sweetwater; and when, after another hour of uncer-
tainty, perfect silence greeted him from his neigh-
bour's room, hope had soared again on exultant v/ing,
far above all former discouragements.
Mr. Brotherson's bed was in a remote corner from
the loop-hole made by Sweetwater; but in the still-
ness now pervading the whole building, the latter
could hear his even breathing very distinctly. He
was in a deep sleep.
The young detective's moment had come.
Taking from his breast a small box, he placed it
on a shelf close against the partition. An instant of
quiet listening, then he touched a spring in the side
of the box and laid his ear, in haste, to his loop-hole.
174 INITIALS ONLY
A strain of well-known music broke softly from
the box and sent its vibrations through the wall.
It was answered instantly by a stir within; then,
as the noble air continued, awakening memories of
that fatal instant when it crashed through the corri-
dors of the Hotel Clermont, drowning Miss Chal-
loner's cry if not the sound of her fall, a word burst
from the sleeping man's lips which carried its own
message to the listening detective.
It was Edith ! Miss Challoner's first name, and the
tone bespoke a shaken soul.
Sweetwater, gasping with excitement, caught the
box from the shelf and silenced it. It had done its
work and it was no part of Sweetwater's plan to have
this strain located, or even to be thought real. But
its echo still lingered in Brotherson's otherwise un-
conscious ears; for another "Edith!" escaped his
lips, followed by a smothered but forceful utterance
of these five words, " You know I promised you "
Promised her what? He did not say. Would he
have done so had the music lasted a trifle longer?
Would he yet complete his sentence? Sweetwater
trembled with eagerness and listened breathlessly
for the next sound. Brotherson was awake. He
was tossing in his bed. Now he has leaped to the
floor. Sweetwater hears him groan, then comes an-
other silence, broken at last by the sound of his body
falling back upon the bed and the troubled ejacula-
tion of "Good God!" wrung from lips no tor-
ture could have forced into complaint under any day-
Sweetwater continued to listen, but he had heard
WHAT AM I TO DO NOW 175
all, and after some few minutes longer of fruitless
waiting, he withdrew from his post. The episode
was over. He would hear no more that night.
Was he satisfied? Certainly the event, puerile as
it might seem to some, had opened up strange vistas
to his aroused imagination. The words " Edith,
you know I promised you " were in themselves
provocative of strange and doubtful conjectures.
Had the sleeper under the influence of a strain of
music indissolubly associated with the death of Miss
Challoner, been so completely forced back into the
circumstances and environment of that moment that
his mind had taken up and his lips repeated the
thoughts with which that moment of horror was
charged? Sweetwater imagined the scene saw
the figure of Brotherson hesitating at the top of the
stairs saw hers advancing from the writing-room,
with startled and uplifted hand heard the music
the crash of that great finale and decided, with-
out hesitation, that the words he had just heard were
indeed the thoughts of that moment. " Edith, you
know I promised you " What had he promised?
What she received was death ! Had this been in his
mind? Would this have been the termination of the
sentence had he wakened less soon to consciousness
Sweetwater dared to believe it. He was no nearer
comprehending the mystery it involved than he had
been before, but he felt sure that he had been given
one true and positive glimpse into this harassed soul,
which showed its deeply hidden secret to be both
deadly and fearsome; and happy to have won his
176 INITIALS ONLY
way so far into the mystic labyrinth he had sworn to
pierce, he rested in happy unconsciousness till morn-
Could it be? Was it he who was dreaming now,
or was the event of the night a mere farce of his own
imagining? Mr. Brotherson was whistling in his
room, gaily and with ever increasing verve, and the
tune which filled the whole floor with music was the
same grand finale from William Tell which had
seemed to work such magic in the night. As Sweet-
water caught the mellow but indifferent notes sound-
ing from those lips of brass, he dragged forth the
music-box he held hidden in his coat pocket, and fling-
ing it on the floor stamped upon it.
; ' The man is too strong for me," he cried. " His
heart is granite ; he meets my every move. What am
I to do now? "
THE DANGER MOMENT
FOR a day Sweetwater acknowledged himself to be
mentally crushed, disillusioned and defeated. Then
his spirits regained their poise. It would take a
heavy weight indeed to keep them down perma-
His opinion was not changed in regard to his neigh-
bour's secret guilt. A demeanour of this sort sug-
gested bravado rather than bravery to the ever sus-
picious detective. But he saw, very plainly by this
time, that he would have to employ more subtle
methods yet ere his hand would touch the goal which
so tantalisingly eluded him.
His work at the bench suffered that week; he made
two mistakes. But by Saturday night he had sat-
isfied himself that he had reached the point where he
would be justified in making use of Miss Challoner's
letters. So he telephoned his wishes to New York,
and awaited the promised developments with an anx-
iety we can only understand by realising how much
greater were his chances of failure than of success.
To ensure the latter, every factor in his scheme must
work to perfection. The medium of communication
(a young, untried girl) must do her part with all the
skill of artist and author combined. Would she dis-
appoint them? He did not think so. Women pos-
sess a marvellous adaptability for this kind of work,
i 7 8 INITIALS ONLY
and this one was French, which made the case still
But Brotherson ! In what spirit would he meet
the proposed advances? Would he even admit the
girl, and, if he did, would the interview bear any
such fruit as Sweetwater hoped for? The man who
could mock the terrors of the night by a careless
repetition of a strain instinct with the most sacred
memories, was not to be depended upon to show
much feeling at sight of a departed woman's writing.
But no other hope remained, and Sweetwater
faced the attempt with heroic determination.
The day was Sunday, which ensured Brotherson's
being at home. Nothing would have lured Sweet-
water out for a moment, though he had no reason to
expect that the affair he was anticipating would come
off till early evening.
But it did. Late in the afternoon he heard the
expected steps go by his door a woman's steps.
But they were not alone. A man's accompanied
them. What man? Sweetwater hastened to satisfy
himself on this point by laying his ear to the parti-
Instantly the whole conversation became audible.
" An errand? Oh, yees, I have an errand! " ex-
plained the evidently unwelcome intruder, in her
broken English. " This is my brother Pierre. My
name is Celeste; Celeste Ledru. I understand Eng-
lish ver well. I have worked much in families.
But he understands nothing. He is all French. He
accompanies me for for the what you call it?
les convenances. He knows nothing of the beesiness."
THE DANGER MOMENT 179
Sweetwater in the darkness of his closet laughed in
his gleeful appreciation.
" Great ! " was his comment. " Just great ! She
has thought of everything or Mr. Gryce has."
Meanwhile, the girl was proceeding with increased
" What is this beesiness, monsieur? I have some-
thing to sell so you Americans speak. Something
you will want much ver sacred, ver precious. A
souvenir from the tomb, monsieur. Will you give
ten no, that is too leetle fifteen dollars for it?
It is worth Oh, more, much more to the true lover.
Pierre, tu es bete. Teins-tu droit sur ta chaise. M.
Brotherson est un monsieur comme il faut."
This adjuration, uttered in sharp reprimand and
with but little of the French grace, may or may not
have been understood by the unsympathetic man they
were meant to impress. But the name which ac-
companied them his own name, never heard but
once before in this house, undoubtedly caused the
silence which almost reached the point of embarrass-
ment, before he broke it with the harsh remark:
" Your French may be good, but it does not go with
me. Yet is it more intelligible than your English.
What do you want here? What have you in that
bag you wish to open; and what do you mean by the
sentimental trash with which you offer it? "
" Ah, monsieur has not memory of me," came in
the sweetest tones of a really seductive voice. " You
astonish me, monsieur. I thought you knew
everybody else does Oh, tout le mondc, monsieur,
that I was Miss Challoner's maid near her when
i8o INITIALS ONLY
other people were not near her the very day she
A pause; then an angry exclamation from some
one. Sweetwater thought from the brother, who
may have misinterpreted some look or gesture on
Brotherson's part. Brotherson himself would not
be apt to show surprise in any such noisy way.
"I I saw many things Oh many things "
the girl proceeded with an admirable mixture of sug-
gestion and reserve. " That day and other days too.
She did not talk Oh, no, she did not talk, but I saw
Oh, yes, I saw that she that you I'll have to
say it, monsieur, that you were tres bons amis after
that week in Lenox."
'' Well? " His utterance of this word was vigor-
ous, but not tender. ''What are you coming to?
What can you have to show me in this connection
that I will believe in for a moment? "
" I have these is monsieur certaine that no one
can hear? I wouldn't have anybody hear what I
have to tell you, for the world for all the world."
" No one can overhear."
For the first time that day Sweetwater breathed a
full, deep breath. This assurance had sounded
heartfelt. " Blessings on her cunning young head.
She thinks of everything."
' You are unhappy. You have thought Miss Chal-
loner cold; that she had no response for your ver
ardent passion. But " these words were uttered
sotto <uoce and with telling pauses " but I
know ver much better than that. She was ver
proud. She had a right; she was no poor girl like me
THE DANGER MOMENT 181
but she spend hours hours in writing letters she
nevaire send. I saw one, just once, for a leetle min-
ute; while you could breathe so short as that; and it
began with Chen, or your English for that, and it
ended with words Oh, ver much like these : You
may nevaire see these lines, which was ver interesting,
veree so, and made one want to see what she did
with letters she wrote and nevaire mail; so I watch
and look, and one day I see them. She had a leetle
ivory box Oh, ver nice, ver pretty. I thought it
was jewels she kept locked up so tight. But, non,
non, non. It was letters these letters. I heard
them rattle, rattle, not once but many times. You
believe me, monsieur ? "
" I believe you to have taken every advantage pos-
sible to spy upon your mistress. I believe that, yes."
" From interest, monsieur, from great interest."
" As monsieur pleases. But it was strange, ver
strange for a grande dame like that to write letters
sheets on sheets and then not send them, nev-
aire. I dreamed of those letters I could not help
it, no; and when she died so quick with no word
for any one, no word at all, I thought of those writ-
ings so secret, so of the heart, and when no one no-
ticed or thought about this box, or or the key
she kept shut tight, oh, always tight in her leetle gold
purse, I Monsieur, do you want to see those let-
ters? " asked the girl, with a gulp. Evidently his
appearance frightened her or had her acting
reached this point of extreme finish? " I had nev-
aire the chance to put them back. And and
1 82 INITIALS ONLY
belong to monsieur. They are his all his and
so beautiful! Ah, just like poetry."
" I don't consider them mine. I haven't a par-
ticle of confidence in you or in your story. You are a
thief self-convicted ; or you're an agent of the po-
lice whose motives I neither understand nor care to
investigate. Take up your bag and go. I haven't
a cent's worth of interest in its contents."
She started to her feet. Sweetwater heard her
chair grate on the painted floor, as she pushed it
back in rising. The brother rose too, but more
calmly. Brotherson did not stir. Sweetwater felt
his hopes rapidly dying down down into ashes,
when suddenly her voice broke forth in pants :
" And Marie said everybody said that you
loved our great lady; that you, of the people, com-
mon, common, working with the hands, living with
men and women working with the hands, that you
had soul, sentiment what you will of the good
and the great, and that you would give your eyes for
her words, si fines, si spirituelles, so like des vers de
poete. False! false! all false! She was an angel.
You are read that ! " she vehemently broke in,
opening her bag and whisking a paper down before
him. " Read and understand my proud and lovely
lady. She did right to die. You are hard hard.
You would have killed her if she had not "
"Silence, woman! I will read nothing!" came
hissing from the strong man's teeth, set in almost
ungovernable anger. " Take back this letter, as you
call it, and leave my room."
"Nevaire! You will not read? But you shall,
THE DANGER MOMENT 183
you shall. Behold another! One, two, three,
four! " Madly they flew from her hand. Madly
she continued her vituperative attack. " Beast !
beast ! That she should pour out her innocent heart
to you, you! I do not want your money, Monsieur
of the common street, of the common house. It
would be dirt. Pierre, it would be dirt. Ah, bah I
je m'oublie tout a fait. Pierre, il est bete. II re-
fuse de les toucher. Mais il faut qu'il les touche, si
je les laisse sur le plancher. Va-?en! Je me moque
de lui. Canaille! L'homme du peuple, tout a fait
du peuple! "
A loud slam the skurrying of feet through the
hall, accompanied by the slower and heavier tread
of the so-called brother, then silence, and such si-
lence that Sweetwater fancied he could catch the
sound of Brotherson's heavy breathing. His own
was silenced to a gasp. What a treasure of a girl!
How natural her indignation ! What an instinct she
showed and what comprehension! This high and
mighty handling of a most difficult situation and a
most difficult man, had imposed on Brotherson, had
almost imposed upon himself. Those letters so
beautiful, so spirituelle! Yet, the odds were that she
had never read them, much less abstracted them.
The minx ! the ready, resourceful, wily, daring minx !'
But had she imposed on Brotherson? As the
silence continued, Sweetwater began to doubt. He
understood quite well the importance of his neigh-
bour's first movement. Were he to tear those let-
ters into shreds! He might be thus tempted. All
depended on the strength of his present mood and
i8 4 INITIALS ONLY
the real nature of the secret which lay buried in his
Was that heart as flinty as it seemed? Was there
no place for doubt or even for curiosity, in its im-
penetrable depths? Seemingly, he had not moved
foot or hand since his unwelcome visitors had left.
He was doubtless still staring at the scattered sheets
lying before him; possibly battling with unac-
customed impulses ; possibly weighing deeds and con-
sequences in those slow moving scales of his in which
no man could cast a weight with any certainty how
far its even balance would be disturbed.
There was a sound as of settling coal. Only at
night would one expect to hear so slight a sound as
that in a tenement full of noisy children. But the
moment chanced to be propitious, and it not only
attracted the attention of Sweetwater on his side of
the wall, but it struck the ear of Brotherson also.
With an ejaculation as bitter as it was impatient, he
roused himself and gathered up the letters. Sweet-
water could hear the successive rustlings as he
bundled them up in his hand. Then came another
silence then the lifting of a stove lid.
Sweetwater had not been wrong in his secret ap-
prehension. His identification with his unimpres-
sionable neighbour's mood had shown him what to
expect. These letters these innocent and precious
outpourings of a rare and womanly soul the only
conceivable open sesame to the hard-locked nature
he found himself pitted against, would soon be re-
solved into a vanishing puff of smoke.
But the lid was thrust back, and the letters re-
THE DANGER MOMENT 185
mained in hand. Mortal strength has its limits.
Even Brotherson could not shut down that lid on
words which might have been meant for him, harshly
as he had repelled the idea.
The pause which followed told little; but when
Sweetwater heard the man within move with char-
acteristic energy to the door, turn the key and step
back again to his place at the table, he knew that
the danger moment had passed and that those let-
ters were about to be read, not casually, but seriously,
as indeed their contents merited.
This caused Sweetwater to feel serious himself.
Upon what result might he calculate? What would
happen to this hardy soul, when the fact he so scorn-
fully repudiated, was borne in upon him, and he saw
that the disdain which had antagonised him was a
mere device a cloak to hide the secret heart of
love and eager womanly devotion? Her death
little as Brotherson would believe it up till now
had been his personal loss the greatest which can
befall a man. When he came to see this when
the modest fervour of her unusual nature began to
dawn upon him in these self-revelations, would the
result be remorse, or just the deadening and final
extinction of whatever tenderness he may have re-
tained for her memory?
Impossible to tell. The balance of probability
hung even. Sweetwater recognised this, and clung,
breathless, to his loop-hole. Fain would he have
seen, as well as heard.
Mr. Brotherson read the first letter, standing. As
it soon became public property, I will give it here,
1 86 INITIALS ONLY
just as it afterwards appeared in the columns of the
" When I sit, as I often do, in perfect quiet under the
stars, and dream that you are looking at them too, not for
hours as I do, but for one full moment in which your
thoughts are with me as wholly as mine are with you, I
feel that the bond between us, unseen by the world, and
possibly not wholly recognised by ourselves, is instinct with
the same power which links together the eternities.
" It seems to have always been ; to have known no begin-
ning, only a budding, an efflorescence, the visible product of a
hidden but always present reality. A month ago and I was
ignorant, even, of your name. Now, you seem the best
known to me, the best understood, of God's creatures. One
afternoon of perfect companionship one flash of strong
emotion, with its deep, true insight into each other's soul,
and the miracle was wrought. We had met, and hence-
forth, parting would mean separation only, and not the
severing of a mutual bond. One hand, and one only, could
do that now. I will not name that hand. For us there is
nought ahead but life.
" Thus do I ease my heart in the silence which conditions
impose upon us. Some day I shall hear your voice again,
and then "
The paper dropped from the reader's hand. It
was several minutes before he took up another.
This one, as it happened, antedated the other, as
will appear on reading it:
" My friend:
" I said that I could not write to you that we must
wait. You were willing; but there is much to be accom-
THE DANGER MOMENT 187
plished, and the silence may be long. My father is not an
easy man to please, but he desires my happiness and will
listen to my plea when the right hour comes. When you
have won your place when you have shown yourself to
be the man I feel you to be, then my father will recognise
your worth, and the way will be cleared, despite the ob-
stacles which now intervene.
" But meantime ! Ah, you will not know it, but words
will rise the heart must find utterance. What the lip
cannot utter, nor the looks reveal, these pages shall hold in
sacred trust for you till the day when my father will place
my hand in yours, with heart-felt approval.
" Is it a folly ? A woman's weak evasion of the strong
silence of man? You may say so some day; but somehow,
I doubt it I doubt it."
The creaking of a chair ; the man within had
seated himself. There was no other sound; a soul
in turmoil wakens no echoes. Sweetwater envied
the walls surrounding the unsympathetic reader.
They could see. He could only listen.
A little while; then that slight rustling again of
the unfolding sheet. The following was read, and
then the fourth and last:
" Did you think I had never seen you till that day we met
In Lenox? I am going to tell you a secret a great, great
secret such a one as a woman hardly whispers to her own
" One day, in early summer, I was sitting in St. Barthol-
omew's Church on Fifth Avenue, waiting for the services
to begin. It was early and the congregation was assem-
bling. While idly watching the people coming in, I saw a
1 88 INITIALS ONLY
gentleman pass by me up the aisle, who made me forget all
the others. He had not the air of a New Yorker; he was
not even dressed in city style, but as I noted his face and
expression, I said way down in my heart, ' That is the kind
of man I could love; the only man I have ever seen who
could make me forget my own world and my own people.'
It was a passing thought, soon forgotten. But when in that
hour of embarrassment and peril on Greylock Mountain, I
looked up into the face of my rescuer and saw again that
countenance which so short a time before had called into
life impulses till then utterly unknown, I knew that my
hour was come. And that was why my confidence was so
spontaneous and my belief in the future so absolute.
" I trust your love which will work wonders ; and I trust
my own, which sprang at a look but only gathered strength
and permanence when I found that the soul of the man I
loved bettered his outward attractions, making the ideal of
my foolish girlhood seem as unsubstantial and evanescent as
a dream in the glowing noontide."
" I can say so now ; for you have written to me, and I
have the dancing words with which to silence any unsought
doubt which might subdue the exuberance of these secret
" I did not expect this. I thought that you would remain
as silent as myself. But men's ways are not our ways.
They cannot exhaust longing in purposeless words on scraps
of soulless paper, and I am glad that they cannot. I love
you for your impatience; for your purpose, and for the
manliness which will win for you yet all that you covet of
fame, accomplishment and love. You expect no reply, but
there are ways in which one can keep silent and yet speak.
Won't you be surprised when your answer comes in a man-
ner you have never thought of? "
IN his interest in what was going on on the other
side of the wall, Sweetwater had forgotten himself.
Daylight had declined, but in the darkness of the
closet this change had passed unheeded. Night it-
self might come, but that should not force him to
leave his post so long as his neighbour remained be-
hind his locked door, brooding over the words of
love and devotion which had come to him, as it were,
from the other world.
But was he brooding? That sound of iron clat-
tering upon iron ! That smothered exclamation and
the laugh which ended it! Anger and determination
rang in that laugh. It had a hideous sound which
prepared Sweetwater for the smell which now
reached his nostrils. The letters were burning; this
time the lid had been lifted from the stove with un-
relenting purpose. Poor Edith Challoner's touch-
ing words had met a different fate from any which
she, in her ignorance of this man's nature, a nature
to which she had ascribed untold perfections
could possibly have conceived.
As Sweetwater thought of this, he stirred nerv-
ously in the darkness, and broke into silent invective
against the man who could so insult the memory of
one who had perished under the blight of his own
coldness and misunderstanding. Then he suddenly
i 9 o INITIALS ONLY
started back surprised and apprehensive. Brother-
son had unlocked his door, and was coming rapidly
his way. Sweetwater heard his step in the hall and
had hardly time to bound from his closet, when he
saw his own door burst in and found himself face
to face with his redoubtable neighbour, in a state of
such rage as few men could meet without quailing,
even were they of his own stature, physical vigour
and prowess; and Sweetwater was a small man.
However, disappointment such as he had just ex-
perienced brings with it a desperation which often
outdoes courage, and the detective, smiling with an
air of gay surprise, shouted out :
; ' Well, what's the matter now? Has the machine
busted, or tumbled into the fire or sailed away to
lands unknown out of your open window? "
' You were coming out of that closet," was the
fierce rejoinder. "What have you got there?
Something which concerns me, or why should your
face go pale at my presence and your forehead drip
with sweat? Don't think that you've deceived me
for a moment as to your business here. I recog-
nised you immediately. You've played the stranger
well, but you've a nose and an eye nobody could
forget. I have known all along that I had a police
spy for a neighbour; but it didn't faze me. I've
nothing to conceal, and wouldn't mind a regiment of
you fellows if you'd only play a straight game. But
when it comes to foisting upon me a parcel of letters
to which I have no right, and then setting a fellow
like you to count my groans or whatever else they
expected to hear, I have a right to defend myself,
and defend myself I will, by Godl But first, let
me be sure that my accusations will stand. Come
into this closet with me. It abuts on the wall of
my room and has its own secret, I know. What
is it? I have you at an advantage now, and you
He did have Sweetwater at an advantage, and the
detective knew it and disdained a struggle which
would have only called up a crowd, friendly to the
other but inimical to himself. Allowing Brother-
son to drag him into the closet, he stood quiescent,
while the determined man who held him with one
hand, felt about with the other over the shelves and
along the partitions till he came to the hole which had
offered such a happy means of communication be-
tween the two rooms. Then, with a laugh almost
as bitter in tone as that which rang from Brother-
son's lips, he acknowledged that business had its
necessities and that apologies from him were in
order; adding, as they both stepped out into the
rapidly darkening room :
" We've played a bout, we two; and you've come
out ahead. Allow me to congratulate you, Mr.
Brotherson. You've cleared yourself so far as I am
concerned. I leave this ranch to-night."
The frown had come back to the forehead of the
indignant man who confronted him.
"So you listened," he cried; "listened when you
weren't sneaking under my eye! A fine occupation
for a man who can dove-tail a corner like an adept.
I wish I had let you join the brotherhood you were
good enough to mention. They would know how
1 92 INITIALS ONLY
to appreciate your double gifts and how to reward
your excellence in the one, if not in the other. What
did the police expect to learn about me that they
should consider it necessary to call into exercise such
extraordinary talents? "
" I'm not good at conundrums. I was given a
task to perform, and I performed it," was Sweet-
water's sturdy reply. Then slowly, with his eye
fixed directly upon his antagonist, " I guess they
thought you a man. And so did I until I heard you
burn those letters. Fortunately we have copies."
" Letters ! " Fury thickened the speaker's voice,
and lent a savage gleam to his eye. " Forgeries !
Make believes ! Miss Challoner never wrote the
drivel you dare to designate as letters. It was con-
cocted at Police Headquarters. They made me tell
my story and then they found some one who could
wield the poetic pen. I'm obliged to them for the
confidence they show in my credulity. / credit Miss
Challoner with such words as have been given me to
read here to-day? I knew the lady, and I know
myself. Nothing that passed between us, not an
event in which we were both concerned, has been
forgotten by me, and no feature of our intercourse
fits the language you have ascribed to her. On the
contrary, there is a lamentable contradiction between
facts as they were and the fancies you have made her
indulge in. And this, as you must acknowledge,
not only proves their falsity, but exonerates Miss
Challoner from all possible charge of sentimen-
' Yet she certainly wrote those letters. We had
them from Mr. Challoner. The woman who
brought them was really her maid. We have not
deceived you in this."
" I do not believe you."
It was not offensively said; but the conviction it
expressed was absolute. Sweetwater recognised the
tone, as one of truth, and inwardly laid down his
arms. He could never like the man; there was too
much iron in his fibre; but he had to acknowledge
that as a foe he was invulnerable and therefore ad-
mirable to one who had the good sense to appreciate
" I do not want to believe you." Thus did
Brotherson supplement his former sentence. " For
if I were to attribute those letters to her, I should
have to acknowledge that they were written to an-
other man than myself. And this would be anything
but agreeable to me. Now I am going to my room
and to my work. You may spend the rest of the
evening or the whole night, if you will,, listening at
that hole. As heretofore, the labour will be all
yours, and the indifference mine."
With a satirical play of feature which could
hardly be called a smile, he nodded and left the room.
" IT'S all up. I'm beaten on my own ground."
Thus confessed Sweetwater, in great dejection, to
himself. " But I'm going to take advantage of the
permission he's just given me and continue the listen-
ing act. Just because he told me to and just because
he thinks I won't. I'm sure it's no worse than to
spend hours of restless tossing in bed, trying to
But our young detective did neither.
As he was putting his supper dishes away, a mes-
senger boy knocked at his door and handed him a
note. It was from Mr. Gryce and ran thus :
" Steal off, if you can, and as soon as you can, and meet
me in Twenty-ninth Street. A discovery has been made
which alters the whole situation."
O. B. AGAIN
"WHAT'S happened? Something very important?
I ought to hope so after this confounded failure."
"Failure? Didn't he read the letters?"
" Yes, he read them. Had to, but "
"Didn't weaken? Eh?"
" No, he didn't weaken. You can't get water out
of a millstone. You may squeeze and squeeze; but
it's your fingers which suffer, not it. He thinks we
manufactured those letters ourselves on purpose to
"Humph! I knew we had a reputation for
finesse, but I didn't know that it ran that high."
" He denies everything. Said she would never
have written such letters to him ; even goes so far as
to declare that if she did write them (he must
be strangely ignorant of her handwriting) they were
meant for some other man than himself. All rot,
but " A hitch of the shoulder conveyed Sweet-
water's disgust. His uniform good nature was
But Mr. Gryce's was not. The faint smile with
which he smoothed with an easy, circling movement,
the already polished top of his ever present cane,
conveyed a secret complacency which called up a
flash of discomfiture to his greatly irritated com-
i 9 6 INITIALS ONLY
" He says that, does he? You found him on the
whole tolerably straightforward, eh? A hard nut;
but hard nuts are usually sound ones. Come, now!
prejudice aside, what's your honest opinion of the
man you've had under your eye and ear for three
solid weeks? Hasn't there been the best of reasons
for your failure? Speak up, my boy. Squarely,
" I can't. I hate the fellow. I hate any one who
makes me look ridiculous. He well, well, if
you'll have it, sir, I will say this much. If it weren't
for that blasted coincidence of the two deaths equally
mysterious, equally under his eye, I'd stake my life
on his honesty. But that coincidence stumps me
and and a sort of feeling I have here."
It is to be hoped that the slap he gave his breast,
at this point, carried off some of his superfluous emo-
tion. " You can't account for a feeling, Mr. Gryce.
The man has no heart. He's as hard as rocks."
" A not uncommon lack where the head plays so
big a part. We can't hang him on any such argu-
ment as that. You've found no evidence against
"N no." The hesitating admission was only
a proof of Sweetwater's obstinacy.
' Then listen to this. The test with the letters
failed, because what he said about them was true.
They were not meant for him. Miss Challoner had
" Only another? I thought there were a half-
dozen, at least."
" Another whom she favoured. The letters
O. B. AGAIN 197
found in her possession not the ones she wrote
herself, but those which were written to her over the
signature O. B. were not all from the same hand.
Experts have been busy with them for a week, and
their reports are unanimous. The O. B. who wrote
the threatening lines acknowledged to by Orlando
Brotherson, was not the O. B. who penned all of
those love letters. The similarity in the writing mis-
led us at first, but once the doubt was raised by Mr.
Challoner's discovery of an allusion in one of them
which pointed to another writer than Mr. Brother-
son, and experts had no difficulty in reaching the
decision I have mentioned."
"Two O. B.s! Isn't that incredible, Mr.
" Yes, it is incredible ; but the incredible is not the
impossible. The man you've been shadowing de-
nies that these expressive effusions of Miss Challoner
were meant for him. Let us see, then, if we can find
the man they were meant for."
"The second O. B.?"
Sweetwater's face instantly lit up.
" Do you mean that I after my egregious fail-
ure am not to be kept on the dunce's seat ? That
you will give me this new job? "
' Yes. We don't know of a better man. It
isn't your fault, you said it yourself, that water
couldn't be squeezed out of a millstone."
" The Superintendent how does he feel about
" He was the first one to mention you."
i 9 8 INITIALS ONLY
"And the Inspector? "
" Is glad to see us on a new tack."
A pause, during which the eager light in the
young detective's eye clouded over. Presently he
"How will the finding of another O. B. alter
Mr. Brotherson's position? He still will be the
one person on the spot, known to have cherished a
grievance against the victim of this mysterious kill-
ing. To my mind, this discovery of a more
favoured rival, brings in an element of motive which
may rob our self-reliant friend of some of his
complacency. We may further, rather than destroy,
our case against Brotherson by locating a second
Mr. Gryce's eyes twinkled.
" That won't make your task any more irksome,"
he smiled. ' The loop we thus throw out is as
likely to catch Brotherson as his rival. It all de-
pends upon the sort of man we find in this second
O. B. ; and whether, in some way unknown to us,
he gave her cause for the sudden and overwhelming
rush of despair which alone supports this general
theory of suicide."
14 The prospect grows pleasing. Where am I to
look for my man? "
1 Your ticket is bought to Derby, Pennsylvania.
If he is not employed in the great factories there,
we do not know where to find him. We have no
" I see. It's a short journey I have before me."
" It'll bring the colour to your cheeks."
O. B. AGAIN 199
" Oh, I'm not kicking."
" You will start to-morrow."
" Wish it were to-day."
" And you will first inquire, not for O. B., that's
too indefinite; but for a young girl by the name of
Doris Scott. She holds the clew; or rather she is
the clew to this second O. B."
" Another woman ! "
"No, a child; well, I won't say child exactly;
she must be sixteen."
" Doris Scott."
" She lives in Derby. Derby is a small place.
You will have no trouble in finding this child. It
was to her Miss Challoner's last letter was ad-
dressed. The one "
" I begin to see."
" No, you don't, Sweetwater. The affair is as
blind as your hat; nobody sees. We're just feeling
along a thread. O. B.'s letters the real O. B., I
mean, are the manliest effusions possible. He's no
more of a milksop than this Brotherson; and unlike
your indomitable friend he seems to have some heart.
I only wish he'd given us some facts ; they would have
been serviceable. But the letters reveal nothing ex-
cept that he knew Doris. He writes in one of them :
' Doris is learning to embroider. It's like a fairy
weaving a cobweb! 9 Doris isn't a very common
name. She must be the same little girl to whom
Miss Challoner wrote from time to time."
" Was this letter signed O. B.? "
" Yes; they all are. The only difference between
his letters and Brotherson's is this: Brotherson's re-
200 INITIALS ONLY
tain the date and address; the second O. B.'s do
" How not? Torn off, do you mean? "
"Yes, or rather, neatly cut away; and as none
of the envelopes were kept, the only means by which
we can locate the writer is through this girl Doris."
" If I remember rightly Miss Challoner's letter
to this child was free from all mystery."
" Quite so. It is as open as the day. That is
why it has been mentioned as showing the freedom
of Miss Challoner's mind five minutes before that
Sweetwater took up the sheet Mr. Gryce pushed
towards him and re-read these lines:
"Dear Little Doris:
"It is a snowy night, but it is all bright inside and I
feel no chill in mind or body. I hope it is so in the little
cottage in Derby ; that my little friend is as happy with harsh
winds blowing from the mountains as she was on the sum-
mer day she came to see me at this hotel. I like to think
of her as cheerful and beaming, rejoicing in tasks which
make her so womanly and sweet. She is often, often in
"Affectionately your friend,
" EDITH A. CHALLONER."
" That to a child of sixteen ! "
" Just so."
" D-o-r-i-s spells something besides Doris."
' Yet there is a Doris. Remember that O. B.
says in one of his letters, ' Doris is learning to em-
O. B. AGAIN 201
" Yes, I remember that."
" So you must first find Doris."
" Very good, sir."
" And as Miss Challoner's letter was directed to
Derby, Pennsylvania, you will go to Derby."
" Yes, sir."
" Anything more? "
" I've been reading this letter again."
" It's worth it."
" The last sentence expresses a hope."
" That has been noted."
Sweetwater's eyes slowly rose till they rested on
Mr. Gryce's face : " I'll cling to the thread you've
given me. I'll work myself through the labyrinth
before us till I reach him."
Mr. Gryce smiled ; but there was more age, wisdom
and sympathy for youthful enthusiasm in that smile
than there was confidence or hope.
THE HEART OF MAN
" A YOUNG girl named Doris Scott? "
The station-master looked somewhat sharply at the
man he was addressing, and decided to give the di-
' There is but one young girl in town of that
name," he declared, u and she lives in that little
house you see just beyond the Works. But let me
tell you, stranger," he went on with some precipita-
But here he was called off, and Sweetwater lost
the conclusion of his warning, if warning it was
meant to be. This did not trouble the detective.
He stood a moment, taking in the prospect; decided
that the Works and the Works alone made the town,
and started for the house which had been pointed
out to him. His way lay through the chief business
street, and greatly preoccupied by his errand, he
gave but a passing glance to the rows on rows of
workmen's dwellings stretching away to the left in
seemingly endless perspective. Yet in that glance
he certainly took in the fact that the sidewalks were
blocked with people and wondered if it were a holi-
day. If so, it must be an enforced one, for the
faces showed little joy. Possibly a strike was on.
The anxiety he everywhere saw pictured on young
faces and old, argued some trouble; but if the trouble
2o6 INITIALS ONLY
Was that, why were all heads turned indifferently
from the Works, and why were the Works them-
selves in full blast ?
These questions he may have asked himself
and he may not. His attention was entirely centred
on the house he saw before him and on the possible
developments awaiting him there. Nothing else
mattered. Briskly he stepped out along the sandy
road, and after a turn cr two which led him quite
away from the Works and its surrounding buildings,
he came out upon the highway and this house.
It was a low and unpretentious one, and had but
one distinguishing feature. The porch which hung
well over the doorstep was unique in shape and gave
an air of picturesqueness to an otherwise simple ex-
terior; a picturesqueness which was much enhanced
in its effect by the background of illimitable forest,
which united the foreground of this pleasing picture
with the great chain of hills which held the Works
and town in its ample basin.
As he approached the doorstep, his mind involun-
tarily formed an anticipatory image of the child
whose first stitches in embroidery were like a fairy's
weaving to the strong man who worked in ore and
possibly figured out bridges. That she would prove
to be of the anemic type, common among working
girls gifted with an imagination they have but scant
opportunity to exercise, he had little doubt.
He was therefore greatly taken aback, when at
his first step upon the porch, the door before him flew
open and he beheld in the dark recess beyond a young
woman of such bright and blooming beauty that he
hardly noticed her expression of extreme anxiety, till
she lifted her hand and laid an admonitory finger
softly on her lip :
" Hush ! " she whispered, with an earnestness
which roused him from his absorption and restored
him to the full meaning of this encounter. " There
is sickness in the house and we are very anxious. Is
your errand an important one? If not " The
faltering break in the fresh, young voice, the look
she cast behind her into the darkened interior, were
eloquent with the hope that he would recognise her
impatience and pass on.
And so he might have done, so he would have
done under all ordinary circumstances. But if this
was Doris and he did not doubt the fact after that
first moment of startled surprise how dare he fore-
go this opportunity of settling the question which
had brought him here.
With a slight stammer but otherwise giving no
evidence of the effect made upon him by the pas-
sionate intensity with which she had urged this plea,
he assured her that his errand was important, but
one so quickly told that it would delay her but a
moment. " But first," said he, with very natural
caution, " let me make sure that it is to Miss Doris
Scott I am speaking. My errand is to her and her
Without showing any surprise, perhaps too en-
grossed in her own thoughts to feel any, she an-
swered with simple directness, " Yes, I am Doris
Scott." Whereupon he became his most persuasive
self, and pulling out a folded paper from his
208 INITIALS ONLY
pocket, opened it and held it before her, with these
" Then will you be so good as to glance at this
letter and tell me if the person whose initials you
will find at the bottom happens to be in town at the
In some astonishment now, she glanced down at
the sheet thus boldly thrust before her, and recog-
nising the O and the B of a well-known signature,
she flashed a look back at Sweetwater in which he
read a confusion of emotions for which he was hardly
" Ah," thought he, " it's coming. In another mo-
ment I shall hear what will repay me for the trials
and disappointments of all these months."
But the moment passed and he had heard nothing.
Instead, she dropped her hands from the door-jamb
and gave such unmistakable evidences of intended
flight, that but one alternative remained to him; he
Thrusting the paper still nearer, he said, with an
emphasis which could not fail of making an impres-
sion, " Read it. Read the whole letter. You will
find your name there. This communication was ad-
dressed to Miss Challoner, but "
Oh, now she found words 1 With a low cry, she
put out her hand in quick entreaty, begging him to
desist and not speak that name on any pretext or for
any purpose. " He may rouse and hear," she ex-
plained, with another quick look behind her. " The
doctor says that this is the critical day. He may be-
come conscious any minute. If he should and were
to hear that name, it might kill him."
" He !*" Sweetwater perked up his ears. " Who
do you mean by he? "
" Mr. Brotherson, my patient, he whose letter "
But here her impatience rose above every other con-
sideration. Without attempting to finish her sen-
tence, or yielding in the least to her curiosity or in-
terest in this man's errand, she cried out with
smothered intensity, " Go ! go 1 I cannot stay an-
other moment from his bedside."
But a thunderbolt could not have moved Sweet-
water after the hearing of that name. " Mr.
Brotherson!" he echoed. "Brotherson! Not Or-
" No, no; his name is Oswald. He's the manager
of these Works. He's sick with typhoid. We are
caring for him. If you belonged here you would
know that much. There! that's his voice you hear.
Go, if you have any mercy." And she began to push
to the door.
But Sweetwater was impervious to all hint. With
eager eyes straining into the shadowy depths just visi-
ble over her shoulder, he listened eagerly for the dis-
jointed words now plainly to be heard in some near-by
but unseen chamber.
" The second O. B. ! " he inwardly declared.
"And he's a Brotherson also, and sick! Miss
Scott," he whisperingly entreated as her hand fell in
manifest despair from the door, " don't send me
away yet. I've a question of the greatest importance
210 INITIALS ONLY
to put you, and one minute more cannot make any
difference to him. Listen! those cries are the cries
of delirium; he cannot miss you; he's not even con-
" He's calling out in his sleep. He's calling her,
just as he has called for the last two weeks. But
he will wake conscious or he will not wake at
The anguish trembling in that latter phrase would
have attracted Sweetwater's earnest, if not pitiful,
attention at any other time, but now he had ears only
for the cry which at that moment came ringing
shrilly from within
The living shouting for the dead! A heart still
warm sending forth its longing to the pierced and
pulseless one, hidden in a far-off tomb ! To Sweet-
water, who had seen Miss Challoner buried, this
summons of distracted love came with weird force.
Then the present regained its sway. He heard
her name again, and this time it sounded less like a
call and more like the welcoming cry of meeting
spirits. Was death to end this separation? Had he
found the true O. B., only to behold another and
final seal fall upon this closely folded mystery? In
his fear of this possibility, he caught at Doris' hand
as she was about to bound away, and eagerly asked:
; ' When was Mr. Brotherson taken ill? Tell me,
I entreat you; the exact day and, if you can, the exact
hour. More depends upon this than you can readily
She wrenched her hand from his, panting with im-
patience and a vague alarm. But she answered him
" On the Twenty-fifth of last month, just an hour
after he was made manager. He fell in a faint at
The day the very day of Miss Challoner's
" Had he heard did you tell him then or after-
wards what happened in New York on that very
" No, no, we have not told him. It would have
killed him and may yet."
" Edith ! Edith 1 " came again through the hush,
a hush so deep that Sweetwater received the impres-
sion that the house was empty save for patient and
This discovery had its effects upon him. Why
should he subject this young and loving girl to further
pain? He had already learned more than he had
expected to. The rest would come with time. But
at the first intimation he gave of leaving, she lost
her abstracted air and turned with absolute eager-
ness towards him.
" One moment," said she. " You are a stranger
and I do not know your name or your purpose here.
But I cannot let you go without begging you not to
mention to any one in this town that Mr. Brotherson
has any interest in the lady whose name we must
not speak. Do not repeat that delirious cry you have
heard or betray in any way our intense and fearful
interest in this young lady's strange death. You
have shown me a letter. Do not speak of that let-
212 INITIALS ONLY
ter, I entreat you. Help us to retain our secret a lit-
tle longer. Only the doctor and myself know what
awaits Mr. Brotherson if he lives. I had to tell the
doctor, but a doctor reveals nothing. Promise that
you will not either, at least till this crisis is passed.
It will help my father and it will help me; and we
need all the help we can get."
Sweetwater allowed himself one minute of thought,
then he earnestly replied:
" I will keep your secret for to-day, and longer, if
" Thank you," she cried; " thank you. I thought
I saw kindness in your face." And she again pre-
pared to close the door.
But Sweetwater had one more question to ask.
" Pardon me," said he, as he stepped down on the
walk, " you say that this is a critical day with your
patient. Is that why every one whom I have seen so
far wears such a look of anxiety?"
' Yes, yes," she cried, giving him one other
glimpse of her lovely, agitated face. " There's but
one feeling in town to-day, but one hope, and, as I
believe, but one prayer. That the man whom every
one loves and every one trusts may live to run these
"Edith! Edith!" rose in ceaseless reiteration
But it rang but faintly now in the ears of our de-
tective. The door had fallen to, and Sweetwater's
share in the anxieties of that household was over.
Slowly he moved away. He was in a confused
yet elated condition of mind. Here was food for a
thousand new thoughts and conjectures. An Or-
lando Brotherson and an Oswald Brotherson
relatives possibly, strangers possibly ; but whether rel-
atives or strangers, both given to signing their letters
with their initials simply; and both the acknowledged
admirers of the deceased Miss Challoner. But she
had loved only one, and that one, Oswald. It was
not difficult to recognise the object of this high-
hearted woman's affections in this man whose struggle
with the master-destroyer had awakened the solicitude
of a whole town.
TEN minutes after Sweetwater's arrival in the vil-
lage streets, he was at home with the people he found
there. His conversation with Doris in the doorway
of her home had been observed by the curious and
far-sighted, and the questions asked and answered
had made him friends at once. Of course, he could
tell them nothing, but that did not matter, he had
seen and talked with Doris and their idolised young
manager was no worse and might possibly soon be
Of his own affairs of his business with Doris
and the manager, they asked nothing. All ordinary
interests were lost in the stress of their great suspense.
It was the same in the bar-room of the one hotel.
Without resorting to more than a question or two,
he readily learned all that was generally known of
Oswald Brotherson. Every one was talking about
him, and each had some story to tell illustrative of
his kindness, his courage and his quick mind. The
Works had never produced a man of such varied
capabilities and all round sympathies. To have him
for manager meant the greatest good which could be-
fall this little community.
His rise had been rapid. He had come from the
east three years before, new to the work. Now, he
was the one man there. Of his relationships east,
family or otherwise, nothing was said. For them his
life began and ended in Derby, and Sweetwater could
see, though no actual expression was given to the feel-
ing, that there was but one expectation in regard to
him and Doris, to whose uncommon beauty and
sweetness they all seemed fully alive. And Sweet-
water wondered, as many of us have wondered, at the
gulf frequently existing between fancy and fact.
Later there came a small excitement. The doctor
was seen riding by on his way to the sick man.
From the window where he sat, Sweetwater watched
him pass up the street and take the road he had him-
self so lately traversed. It was so straight a one
and led so directly northward that he could follow
with his eye the doctor's whole course, and even get a
glimpse of his figure as he stepped from the buggy
and proceeded to tie up the horse. There was an
energy about him pleasing to Sweetwater. He might
have much to do with this doctor. If Oswald
Brotherson died but he was not willing to consider
this possibility yet. His personal sympathies, to
say nothing of his professional interest in the mystery
to which this man and this man only possibly
held the key, alike forbade. He would hope, as
these others were hoping, and if he did not count the
minutes, he at least saw every move of the old horse
waiting with drooping head and the resignation of
long custom for the re-appearance of his master with
his news of life or death.
And so an hour two hours passed. Others
were watching the old horse now. The street
showed many an eager figure with head turned north-
216 INITIALS ONLY
ward. From the open door-ways women stepped,
looked in the direction of their anxiety and retreated
to their work again. Suspense was everywhere; the
moments dragged like hours; it became so keen at last
that some impatient hearts could no longer stand it.
A woman put her baby into another woman's arms
and hurried up the road; another followed, then an-
other ; then an old man, bowed with years and of tot-
tering steps, began to go that way, halting a dozen
times before he reached the group now collected in
the dusty highway, near but not too near that house.
As Sweetwater's own enthusiasm swelled at this sight,
he thought of the other Brotherson with his theories
and active advocacy for reform, and wondered if
men and women would forego their meals and stand
for hours in the keen spring wind just to be the first
to hear if he were to live or die. He knew that he
himself would not. But he had suffered much both
in his pride and his purse at the hands of the Brook-
lyn inventor; and such despoliation is not a reliable
basis for sympathy. He was questioning his own
judgment in this matter and losing himself in the
mazes of past doubts and conjectures when a sudden
change took place in the aspect of the street; he saw
people running, and in another moment saw why.
The doctor had shown himself on the porch which
all were watching. Was he coming out? No, he
stands quite still, runs his eye over the people waiting
quietly in the road, and beckons to one of the smaller
boys. The child, with upturned face, stands listening
to what he has to say, then starts on a run for the
village. He is stopped, pulled about, questioned,
and allowed to run on. Many rush forth to meet
him. He is panting, but gleeful. Mr. Brotherson
has waked up conscious, and the doctor says, He
THE OVAL HUT
THAT night Dr. Fenton had a visitor. We know
that visitor and we almost know what his questions
were, if not the answers of the good doctor. Never-
theless, it may be better to listen to a part at least
of their conversation.
Sweetwater, who knew when to be frank and open,
as well as when to be reserved and ambiguous, made
no effort to disguise the nature of his business or his
chief cause of interest in Oswald Brotherson. The
eye which met his was too penetrating not to detect
the smallest attempt at subterfuge; besides, Sweet-
water had no need to hide his errand; it was one of
peace, and it threatened nobody " the more's the
pity," thought he in uneasy comment to himself, as
he realised the hopelessness of the whole situation.
His first word, therefore, was a plain announce-
" Dr. Fenton, my name is Sweetwater. I am
from New York, and represent for the nonce, Mr.
Challoner, whose name I have simply to mention,
for you to understand that my business is with Mr.
Brotherson whom I am sorry to find seriously, if not
dangerously, ill. Will you tell me how long you
think it will be before I can have a talk with him on a
subject which I will not disguise from you may prove
a very exciting one?"
THE OVAL HUT 219
'* Weeks, weeks," returned the doctor. " Mr.
Brotherson has been a very sick man and the only
hope I have of his recovery is the fact that he is igno-
rant of his trouble or that he has any cause for doubt
or dread. Were this happy condition of things to
be disturbed, were the faintest rumour of sorrow
or disaster to reach him in his present weakened state,
I should fear a relapse, with all its attendant dangers.
What then, if any intimation should be given him of
the horrible tragedy suggested by the name you have
mentioned? The man would die before your eyes.
Mr. Challoner's business will have to wait."
'That I see; but if I knew when I might
" I can give you no date. Typhoid is a treacher-
ous complaint; he has the best of nurses and the
chances are in favour of a quick recovery; but we
never can be sure. You had better return to New
York. Later, you can write me if you wish, or Mr.
Challoner can. You may have confidence in my re-
ply; it will not mislead you."
Sweetwater muttered his thanks and rose. Then
he slowly sat down again.
" Dr. Fenton," he began, " you are a man to be
trusted. I'm in a devil of a fix, and there is just a
possibility that you may be able to help me out. It
is the general opinion in New York, as you may know,
that Miss Challoner committed suicide. But the cir-
cumstances do not fully bear out this theory, nor can
Mr. Challoner be made to accept it. Indeed, he is so
convinced of its falsehood, that he stands ready to do
anything, pay anything, suffer anything, to have this
220 INITIALS ONLY
distressing blight removed from his daughter's good
name. Mr. Brotherson was her dearest friend, and
as such may have the clew to this mystery, but Mr.
Brotherson may not be in a condition to speak for
several weeks. Meanwhile, Mr. Challoner must suf-
fer from great suspense unless " a pause during
which he searched the doctor's face with a perfectly
frank and inquiring expression " unless some one
else can help us out. Dr. Fenton, can you? "
The doctor did not need to speak; his expression
conveyed his answer.
" No more than another," said he. " Except for
what Doris felt compelled to tell me, I know as little
as yourself. Mr. Brotherson's delirium took the
form of calling continually upon one name. I did
not know this name, but Doris did, also the danger
lurking in the fact that he had yet to hear of the
tragedy which had robbed him of this woman to
whom he was so deeply attached. So she told me
just this much. That the Edith whose name rung so
continuously in our ears was no other than the Miss
Challoner of New York of whose death and its tragic
circumstances the papers have been full ; that their en-
gagement was a secret one unshared so far as she
knew by any one but herself. That she begged me
to preserve this secret and to give her all the help I
could when the time came for him to ask questions.
Especially did she entreat me to be with her at the
crisis. I was, but his waking was quite natural. He
did not ask for Miss Challoner; he only inquired how
long he had been ill and whether Doris had received
a letter during that time. She had not received one,
THE OVAL HUT 221
a fact which seemed to disappoint him; but she car-
ried it off so gaily (she is a wonderful girl, Mr.
Sweetwater the darling of all our hearts), saying
that he must not be so egotistical as to think that the
news of his illness had gone beyond Derby, that he
soon recovered his spirits and became a very promis-
ing convalescent. That is all I know about the mat-
ter; little more, I take it, than you know yourself."
Sweetwater nodded ; he had expected nothing from
the doctor, and was not disappointed at his failure.
There were two strings to his bow, and the one prov-
ing valueless, he proceeded to test the other.
" You have mentioned Miss Scott, as the confidante
and only confidante of this unhappy pair," said he.
" Would it be possible can you make it possible
for me to see her? "
It was a daring proposition ; he understood this at
once from the doctor's expression; and, fearing a
hasty rebuff, he proceeded to supplement his request
with a few added arguments, urged with such unex-
pected address and show of reason that Dr. Fenton's
aspect visibly softened and in the end he found him-
self ready to promise that he would do what he could
to secure his visitor the interview he desired if he
would come to the house the next day at the time of
his own morning visit.
This was as much as the young detective could ex-
pect, and having expressed his thanks, he took his
leave in anything but a discontented frame of mind.
With so powerful an advocate as the doctor, he felt
confident that he should soon be able to conquer this
young girl's reticence and learn all that was to be
222 INITIALS ONLY
learned from any one but Mr. Brotherson himself.
In the time which must elapse between that happy
hour and the present, he would circulate and learn
what he could about the prospective manager. But
he soon found that he could not enter the Works
without a permit, and this he was hardly in a position
to demand; so he strolled about the village instead,
and later wandered away into the forest.
Struck by the inviting aspect of a narrow and little
used road opening from the highway shortly above
the house where his interests were just then centred, he
strolled into the heart of the spring woods till he came
to a depression where a surprise awaited him, in the
shape of a peculiar structure rising from its midst
where it just fitted, or so nearly fitted that one could
hardly walk about it without brushing the surround-
ing tree trunks. Of an oval shape, with its door
facing the approach, it nestled there, a wonder to the
eye and the occasion of considerable speculation to
his inquiring mind. It had not been long built, as
was shown very plainly by the fresh appearance of
the unpainted boards of which it was constructed;
and while it boasted of a door, as I've already said,
there were no evidences visible of any other break in
the smooth, neatly finished walls. A wooden ellipse
with a roof but no windows; such it appeared and
such it proved to be. A mystery to Sweetwater's
eyes, and like all mysteries, interesting. For what
purpose had it been built and why this isolation ? It
was too flimsy for a reservoir and too expensive for
the wild freak of a crank.
A nearer view increased his curiosity. In the pro-
THE OVAL HUT 223
jection of the roof over the curving sides he found
fresh food for inquiry. As he examined it in the
walk he made around the whole structure, he came
to a place where something like a hinge became vis-
ible and further on another. The roof was not sim-
ply a roof; it was also a lid capable of being raised
for the air and light which the lack of windows ne-
cessitated. This was an odd discovery indeed, giv-
ing to the uncanny structure the appearance of a huge
box, the cover of which could be raised or lowered at
pleasure. And again he asked himself for what it
could be intended? What enterprise, even of the
great Works, could demand a secrecy so absolute
that such pains as these should be taken to shut out
all possibility of a prying eye. Nothing in his ex-
perience supplied him with an answer.
He was still looking up at these hinges, with a
glance which took in at the same time the nearness
and extreme height of the trees by which this sylvan
mystery was surrounded, when a sound from the road
on the opposite side of the hollow brought his con-
jectures to a standstill and sent him hurrying on to
the nearest point from which that road became vis-
A team was approaching. He could hear the
heavy tread of horses working their laborious way
through trees whose obstructing branches swished be-
fore and behind them. They were bringing in a load
for this shed, whose uses he would consequently soon
understand. Grateful for his good luck for his
was a curiosity which could not stand defeat he
took a few steps into the wood, and from the vantage
224 INITIALS ONLY
point of a concealing cluster of bushes, fixed his eyes
upon the spot where the road opened into the hollow.
Something blue moved there, and in another mo-
ment, to his great amazement, there stepped into view
the spirited form of Doris Scott, who if he had given
the matter a thought he would have supposed to be
sitting just then by the bedside of her patient, a half
mile back on the road.
She was dressed for the woods in a blue skirt and
jacket and moved like a leader in front of a heavily
laden wagon now coming to a standstill before the
closely shut shed if such we may call it.
" I have a key," so she called out to the driver
who had paused for orders. " When I swing the
doors wide, drive straight in."
Sweetwater took a look at the wagon. It was
piled high with large wooden boxes on more than
one of which he could see scrawled the words: O.
Brotherson, Derby, Pa.
This explained her presence, but the boxes told
nothing. They were of all sizes and shapes, and
some of them so large that the assistance of another
man was needed to handle them. Sweetwater was
about to offer his services when a second man ap-
peared from somewhere in the rear, and the detec-
tive's attention being thus released from the load out
of which he could make nothing, he allowed it to con-
centrate upon the young girl who had it in charge
and who, for many reasons, was the one person of
supreme importance to him.
She had swung open the two wide doors, and now
stood waiting for horse and wagon to enter. With
THE OVAL HUT 225
locks flying free she wore no bonnet she pre-
sented a picture of ever increasing interest to Sweet-
water. Truly she was a very beautiful girl, buoy-
ant, healthy and sweet; as unlike as possible his
preconceived notions of Miss Challoner's humble lit-
tle protegee. Her brown hair of a rich chestnut hue,
was in itself a wonder. On no head, even in the
great city he had just left, had he seen such abun-
dance, held in such modest restraint. Nature had
been partial to this little working girl and given her
the chevelure of a queen.
But this was nothing. No one saw this aureole
when once the eye had rested on her features and
caught the full nobility of their expression and the
lurking sweetness underlying her every look. She
herself made the charm and whether placed high or
placed low, must ever attract the eye and afterwards
lure the heart, by an individuality which hardly
needed perfect features in which to express itself.
Young yet, but gifted, as girls of her class often
are, with the nicest instincts and purest aspirations,
she showed the elevation of her thoughts both in her
glance and the poise with which she awaited events.
Swcetwater watched her with admiration as she su-
perintended the unloading of the wagon and the dis-
posal of the various boxes on the floor within; but as
nothing she said during the process was calculated to
afford the least enlightenment in regard to their
contents, he presently wearied of his inaction and
turned back towards the highway, comforting him-
self with the reflection that in a few short hours he
would have her to himself when nothing but a blun-
226 INITIALS ONLY
der on his part should hinder him from sounding her
young mind and getting such answers to his questions
as the affair in which he was so deeply interested, de-
" You see me again, Miss Scott. I hope that yes-
terday's intrusion has not prejudiced you against me."
" I have no prejudices," was her simple but firm
reply. " I am only hurried and very anxious. The
doctor is with Mr. Brotherson just now; but he has
several other equally sick patients to visit and I dare
not keep him here too long."
; ' Then you will welcome my abruptness. Miss
Scott, here is a letter from Mr. Challoner. It will
explain my position. As you will see, his only desire
is to establish the fact that his daughter did not com-
mit suicide. She was all he had in the world, and
the thought that she could, for any reason, take her
own life is unbearable to him. Indeed, he will not
believe she did so, evidence or no evidence. May I
ask if you agree with him? You have seen Miss
Challoner, I believe. Do you think she was the
woman to plunge a dagger in her heart in a place as
public as a hotel reception room ? "
" No, Mr. Sweetwater. I'm a poor working girl,
with very little education and almost no knowledge
of the world and such ladies as she. But something
tells me for all that, that she was too nice to do this.
I saw her once and it made me want to be quiet and
kind and beautiful like her. I never shall think she
did anything so horrible. Nor will Mr. Brotherson
228 INITIALS ONLY
ever believe it. He could not and live. You see, I
am talking to you as if you knew him, the kind of
man he is and just how he feels towards Miss Chal-
loner. He is " Her voice trailed off and a look,
uncommon and almost elevated, illumined her face.
" I will not tell you what he is; you will know, if you
ever see him."
" If the favourable opinion of a whole town makes
a good fellow, he ought to be of the best," returned
Sweetwater, with his most honest smile. " I hear
but one story of him wherever I turn."
" There is but one story to tell," she smiled, and
her head drooped softly, but with no air of self-con-
Sweetwater watched her for a moment, and then
remarked: " I'm going to take one thing for granted;
that you are as anxious as we are to clear Miss Chal-
" O yes, O yes."
" More than that, that you are ready and eager to
help us. Your very looks show that."
" You are right; I would do anything to help you.
But what can a girl like me do ? Nothing ; nothing.
I know too little. Mr. Challoner must see that
when you tell him I'm only the daughter of a fore-
" And a friend of Mr. Brotherson," supplemented
" Yes," she smiled, " he would want me to say so.
But that's his goodness. I don't deserve the hon-
" His friend and therefore his confidante," Sweet-
SWEETWATER RETURNS 229
water continued. " He has talked to you about Miss
" He had to. There was nobody else to whom he
could talk ; and then, I had seen her and could under-
' Where did you see her ? "
" In New York. I was there once with father,
who took me to see her. I think she had asked Mr.
Brotherson to send his little friend to her hotel if
ever we came to New York.'*
" That was some time ago? "
" We were there in June."
" And you have corresponded ever since with Miss
" She has been good enough to write, and I have
ventured at times to answer her."
The suspicion which might have come to some
men found no harbour in Sweetwater's mind. This
young girl was beautiful, there was no denying that,
beautiful in a somewhat startling and quite unusual
way ; but there was nothing in her bearing, nothing in
Miss Challoner's letters to indicate that she had been
a cause for jealousy in the New York lady's mind.
He, therefore, ignored this possibility, pursuing his
inquiry along the direct lines he had already laid out
for himself. Smiling a little, but in a very earnest
fashion, he pointed to the letter she still held and
" Remember that I'm not speaking for myself,
Miss Scott, when I seem a little too persistent and in-
quiring. You have corresponded with Miss Chal-
loner; you have been told the fact of her secret en-
2 3 o INITIALS ONLY
gagement to Mr. Brotherson and you have been
witness to his conduct and manner for the whole time
he has been separated from her. Do you, when you
think of it carefully, recall anything in the whole
story of this romance which would throw light upon
the cruel tragedy which has so unexpectedly ended it ?
Anything, Miss Scott? Straws show which way the
She was vehement, instantly vehement, in her dis-
" I can answer at once," said she, " because I have
thought of nothing else for all these weeks. Here all
was well. Mr. Brotherson was hopeful and happy
and believed in her happiness and willingness to wait
for his success. And this success was coming so fast !
Oh, how can we ever tell him ! How can we ever
answer his questions even, or keep him satisfied and
calm until he is strong enough to hear the truth. I've
had to acknowledge already that I have had no letter
from her for weeks. She never wrote to him di-
rectly, you know, and she never sent him messages,
but he knew that a letter to me, was also a letter to
him and I can see that he is troubled by this long
silence, though he says I was right not to let her
know of his illness and that I must continue to keep
her in ignorance of it till he is quite well again and
can write to her himself. It is hard to hear him talk
like this and not look sad or frightened."
Sweetwater remembered Miss Challoner's last let-
ter, and wished he had it here to give her. In default
of this, he said :
" Perhaps this not hearing may act in the way of
SWEETWATER RETURNS 231
a preparation for the shock which must come to him
sooner or later. Let us hope so, Miss Scott."
Her eyes filled.
" Nothing can prepare him," said she. Then
added, with a yearning accent, " I wish I were older
or had more^experience. I should not feel so help-
less. But the gratitude I owe him will give me
strength when I need it most. Only I wish the suf-
fering might be mine rather than his."
Unconscious of any self-betrayal, she lifted her
eyes, startling Sweetwatcr by the beauty of her look.
" I don't think I'm so sorry for Oswald Brother-
son," he murmured to himself as he left her. " He's
a more fortunate man than he knows, however deeply
he may feel the loss of his first sweetheart."
That evening the disappointed Sweetwater took
the train for New York. He had failed to advance
the case in hand one whit, yet the countenance he
showed Mr. Gryce at their first interview was not
a wholly gloomy one.
" Fifty dollars to the bad ! " was his first laconic
greeting. " All I have learned is comprised in these
two statements. The second O. B. is a fine fellow;
and not intentionally the cause of our tragedy. He
does not even know about it. He's down with the
fever at present and they haven't told him. When
he's better we may hear something; but I doubt even
" Tell me about it."
Sweetwater complied; and such is the unconscious-
ness with which we often encounter the pivotal cir-
cumstance upon which our future or the future of
2 3 2 INITIALS ONLY
our most cherished undertaking hangs, he omitted
from his story, the sole discovery which was of any
real importance in the unravelling of the mystery in
which they were so deeply concerned. He said noth-
ing of his walk in the woods or of what he saw there.
" A meagre haul," he remarked at the close.
" But that's as it should be, if you and I are right in
our impressions and the clew to this mystery lies here
in the character and daring of Orlando Brotherson.
That's why I'm not down in the mouth. Which
goes to show what a grip my prejudices have on me."
u As prejudiced as a bulldog."
" Exactly. By the way, what news of the gentle-
man I've just mentioned? Is he as serene in my ab-
sence as when under my eye? "
" More so; he looks like a man on the verge of
triumph. But I fear the triumph he anticipates has
nothing to do with our affairs. All his time and
thought is taken up with his invention."
" You discourage me, sir. And now to see Mr.
Challoner. Small comfort can I carry him."
THE IMAGE OF DREAD
IN the comfortable little sitting-room of the Scott
cottage Doris stood, looking eagerly from the win-
dow which gave upon the road. Behind her, on the
other side of the room, could be seen through a partly
opened door, a neatly spread bed, with a hand lying
quietly on the patched coverlid. It was a strong
looking hand which, even when quiescent, conveyed
the idea of purpose and vitality. As Doris said, the
fingers never curled up languidly, but always with the
hint of a clench. Several weeks had passed since the
departure of Sweetwater and the invalid was fast
gaining strength. To-morrow, he would be up.
Was Doris thinking of him? Undoubtedly, for
her eyes often flashed his way; but her main attention
was fixed upon the road, though no one was in sight
at the moment. Some one had passed for whose re-
turn she looked; some one whom, if she had been
asked to describe, she would have called a tall, fine-
looking man of middle age, of a cultivated appear-
ance seldom seen in this small manufacturing town;
seldom seen, possibly, in any town. He had glanced
up at the window as he went by, in a manner too
marked not to excite her curiosity. Would he look
up again when he came back? She was waiting there
to see. Why, she did not know. She was not used
to indulging in petty suppositions of this kind; her
234 INITIALS ONLY
life was too busy, her anxieties too keen. The great
dread looming ever before her, the dread of that
hour when she must speak, left her very little heart
for anything dissociated with this coming event.
For a girl of seventeen she was unusually thoughtful.
Life had been hard in this little cottage since her
mother died, or rather she had felt its responsibil-
Life itself could not be hard where Oswald Broth-
erson lived ; neither to man, nor woman. The cheer
of some natures possesses a divine faculty. If it can
help no other way, it does so by the aid of its own
light. Such was the character of this man's temper-
ament. The cottage was a happy place; only
she never fathomed the depths of that only. If in
these days she essayed at times to do so, she gave full
credit to the Dread which rose ever before her
rose like a ghost! She, Doris, led by inscrutable
Fate, was waiting to hurt him who hurt nobody;
whose mere presence was a blessing.
But her interest had been caught to-day, caught by
this stranger, and when during her eager watch the
small messenger from the Works came to the door
with the usual daily supply of books and magazines
for the patient, she stepped out on the porch to speak
to him and to point out the gentleman who was now
rapidly returning from his stroll up the road.
' Who is that, Johnny? " she asked. " You know
everybody who comes to -town. What is the name
of the gentleman you see coming? "
The boy looked, searched his memory, not without
some show of misgiving.
THE IMAGE OF DREAD 235
" A queer name," he admitted at last. " I never
heard the likes of it here before. Shally something.
Shally Shally "
1 Yes, that's it. How could you guess? He's
from New York. Nobody knows why he's here.
Don't seem to have no business."
' Well, never mind. Run on, Johnny. And
don't forget to come earlier to-morrow; Mr. Broth-
erson gets tired waiting."
" Does he? I'll come quick then; quick as I can
run." And he sped off at a pace which promised well
for the morrow.
Challoner! There was but one Challoner in the
world for Doris Scott, Edith's father. Was this
he ? It must be, or why this haunting sense of some-
thing half remembered as she caught a glimpse of
his face. Edith's father! and he was approaching,
approaching rapidly, on his way back to town.
Would he stop this time? As the possibility struck
her, she trembled and drew back, entering the house,
but pausing in the hall with her ear turned to the
road. She had not closed the door; something
within a hope or a dread had prevented that.
Would he take it as an invitation to come in? No,
no; she was not ready for such an encounter yet.
He might speak Edith's name; Oswald might hear
and with a gasp she recognised the closeness of
his step ; heard it lag, almost halt just where the path
to the house ran into the roadside. But it passed
on. He was not going to force an interview yet.
She could hear him retreating further and further
236 INITIALS ONLY
away. The event was not for this day, thank God!
She would have one night at least in which to prepare
With a sense of relief so great that she realised,
for one shocked moment, the full extent of her fears,
she hastened back into the sitting-room, with her col-
lection of books and pamphlets. A low voice
greeted her. It came from the adjoining room.
" Doris, come here, sweet child. I want you."
How she would have bounded joyously at the
summons, had not that Dread raised its bony finger
in every call from that dearly loved voice. As it
was, her feet moved slowly, lingering at the sound.
But they carried her to his side at last, and once there,
" See what an armful," she cried in joyous greet-
ing, as she held out the bundle she had brought.
' You will be amused all day. Only, do not tire
" I do not want the papers, Doris; not yet.
There's something else which must come first.
Doris, I have decided to let you write to her. I'm
so much better now, she will not feel alarmed. I
must must get a word from her. I'm starving
for it. I lie here and can think of nothing else. A
message one little message of six short words
would set me on my feet again. So get your paper
and pen, dear child, and write her one of your pret-
Had he loved her, he would have perceived the
chill which shook her whole body, as he spoke. But
THE IMAGE OF DREAD 237
his first thought, his penetrating thought, was not
for her and he saw only the answering glance,
the patient smile. She had not expected him to see
more. She knew that she was quite safe from the
divining look; otherwise, he would have known her
secret long ago.
" I'm ready," said she. But she did not lay down
her bundle. She was not ready for her task, poor
child. She quailed before it. She quailed so much
that she feared to stir lest he should see that she had
no command over her movements.
The man who watched without seeing wondered
that she stood so still and spoke so briefly. But only
for a moment. He thought he understood her hes-
itation, and a look of great earnestness replaced his
former one of grave decision.
" I know that in doing this I am going beyond my
sacred compact with Miss Challoner," he said. " I
never thought of illness, at least, of illness on my
part. I never dreamt that I, always so well, always
so full of life, could know such feebleness as this,
feebleness which is all of the body, Doris, leaving the
mind free to dream and long. Talk of her, child.
Tell me all over again just how she looked and spoke
that day you saw her in New York."
" Would it not be better for me to write my letter
first? Papa will be coming soon and Truda can
never cook your bird as you like it."
Surprised now by something not quite natural in
her manner, he caught at her hand and held her as
she was moving away.
238 INITIALS ONLY,
" You are tired," said he. " I've wearied you
with my commission and complaints. Forgive me,
dear child, and >"
" You are mistaken," she interrupted softly. " I
am not tired; I only wished to do the important
thing first. Shall I get my desk? Do you really
wish me to write? "
" Yes," said he, softly dropping her hand. " I
wish you to write. It will ensure me good sleep, and
sleep will make me strong. A few words, Doris;
just a few words."
She nodded; turning quickly away to hide her
tears. His smile had gone to her very soul. It
was always a beautiful one, his chief personal attrac-
tion, but at this moment it seemed to concentrate
within it the unspoken fervours and the boundless
expectations of a great love, and she who was the
aim and cause of all this sweetness lay in unrespon-
sive silence in a distant tomb 1
But Doris' own smile was not lacking in encour-
agement and beauty when she came back a few min-
utes later and sat down ly his side to write. His
melted before it, leaving his eyes very earnest as he
watched her bending figure and the hard-worked little
hand at its unaccustomed task.
" I must give her daily exercises," he decided
within himself. " That look of pain shows how dif-
ficult this work is for her. It must be made easy at
any cost to my time. Such beauty calls for accom-
plishment. I must not neglect so plain a duty."
Meantime, she v/as struggling to find words in
face of that great Dread. She had written Dear
THE IMAGE OF DREAD 239
Miss Challoner and was staring in horror at the
soulless words. Only her sense of duty upheld her.
Gladly would she have torn the sheet in two and
rushed away. How could she add sentences to this
hollow phrase, the mere employment of which
seemed a sacrilege. Dear Miss Challoner. Oh,
she was dear, but
Unconsciously the young head drooped, and the
pen slid from her hand.
" I cannot," she murmured, " I cannot think what
" Shall I help you ? " came softly from the bed.
" I'll try and not forget that it is Doris writing."
" If you will be so good," she answered, with re-
newed courage. " I can put the words down if you
will only find them for me."
" Write then. ' Dear Miss Challoner: "
" I have already written that."
"Why do you shudder?"
" I'm cold. I've been cold all day. But never
mind that, Mr. Brotherson. Tell me how to begin
" This way. ' I've not been able to answer your
kind letter, because I have had to play nurse for
some three or four weeks to a very fretful and ex-
acting -patient.' Have you written that? "
" No," said Doris, bending over her desk till her
curls fell in a tangle over her white cheeks. " I do
not like to," she protested at last, with an attempt at
nai'vete which seemed real enough to him.
" Well, leave out the fretful if you must, but keep
in the exacting. I have been exacting, you know."
2 4 o INITIALS ONLY
Silence, broken only by the scratching of the stub-
born, illy-directed pen.
" It's down," she whispered. She said, afterward,
that it was like writing with a ghost looking over
" Then add, ' Mr. Brotherson has had a slight
attack of fever, but he is getting well fast, and will
soon ' Do I run on too quickly? "
" No, no, I can follow."
" But not without losing breath; eh, Doris? "
As he laughed, she smiled. There was a heroism
in that smile, Oswald Brotherson, of which you knew
" You might speak a little more slowly," she ad-
Quietly he repeated the last phrase. " * But he is
getting well fast and will soon be ready to take up
the management of the Works which was given him
just before he was taken ill.' That will show her
that I am working up," he brightly remarked as
Doris carefully penned the last word. " Of myself
you need say nothing more, unless " he paused and
his face took on a wistful look which Doris dared
not meet; "unless but no, no, she must think it
has been only a passing indisposition. If she knew
I had been really ill, she would suffer, and perhaps
act imprudently or suffer and not dare to act at all,
which might be sadder for her still. Leave it where
it is and begin about yourself. Write a good deal
about yourself, so that she will see that you are not
worried and that all is well with us here. Cannot
you do that without assistance? Surely you can tell
THE IMAGE OF DREAD 241
her about that last piece of embroidery you showed
me. She will be glad to hear why, Doris ! "
" Oh, Mr. Brotherson," the poor child burst out,
" you must let me cry ! I'm so glad to see you better
and interested in all sorts of things. These are not
tears of grief. I I but I'm forgetting what
the doctor told me. You are growing excited, and I
was to see that you were calm, always calm. I will
take my desk away. I will write the rest in the
other room, while you look at the magazines."
" But bring your letter back for me to seal. I
want to see it in its envelope. Oh, Doris, you are a
good little girl I "
She shook her head, and hastened to hide herself
from him in the other room; and it was a long time
before she came back with the letter folded and in
its envelope. When she did, her face was com-
posed and her manner natural. She had quite made
up her mind what her duty was and how she was go-
ing to perform it.
" Here is the letter," said she, laying it in his out-
stretched hand. Then she turned her back. She
knew, with a woman's unerring instinct why he
wished to handle it before it went. She felt that kiss
he folded away in it, in every fibre of her aroused
and sympathetic heart, but the hardest part of the
ordeal was over and her eyes beamed softly when
she turned again to take it from his hand and affix the
"You will mail it yourself?" he asked. "I
should like to have you put it into the box with your
242 INITIALS ONLY
V I will put it in to-night, after supper," she prom-
His smile of contentment assured her that this
trial of her courage and self-control was not with-
out one blessed result. He would rest for several
days in the pleasure of what he had done or thought
he had done. She need not cringe before that im-
age of Dread for two, three days at least. Mean-
while, he would grow strong in body, and she, per-
haps, in spirit. Only one precaution she must take.
No hint of Mr. Challoner's presence in town must
reach him. He must be guarded from a knowledge
of that fact as certainly as from the more serious one
which lay behind it.
I HOPE NEVER TO SEE THAT MAN
THAT this would be a difficult thing to do, Doris was
soon to realise. Mr. Challoner continued to pass
the house twice a day and the time finally came when
he ventured up the walk.
Doris was in the window and saw him coming.
She slipped softly out and intercepted him before
he had stepped upon the porch. She had caught
up her hat as she passed through the hall, and
was fitting it to her head as he looked up and saw
"Miss Scott?" he asked.
" Yes, Mr. Challoner."
" You know me? " he went on, one foot on the
step and one still on the walk.
Before replying she closed the door behind her.
Then as she noted his surprise she carefully ex-
" Mr. Brotherson, our boarder, is just recovering
from typhoid. He is still weak and acutely suscep-
tible to the least noise. I was afraid that our voices
might disturb him. Do you mind walking a little
way up the road ? That is, if your visit was intended
Her flush, the beauty which must have struck even
him, but more than all else her youth, seemed to
reconcile him to this unconventional request. Bow-
244 INITIALS ONLY
ing, he took his foot from the step, saying, as she
joined him :
" Yes, you are the one I wanted to see; that is,
to-day. Later, I hope to have the privilege of a
conversation with Mr. Brotherson."
She gave him one quick look, trembling so that he
offered her his arm with a fatherly air.
" I see that you understand my errand here," he
proceeded, with a grave smile, meant as she knew
for her encouragement. " I am glad, because we can
go at once to the point. Miss Scott," he continued
in a voice from which he no longer strove to keep
back the evidences of deep feeling, " I have the
strongest interest in your patient that one man can
have in another, where there is no personal ac-
quaintanceship. You who have every reason to un-
derstand my reasons for this, will accept the state-
ment, I hope, as frankly as it is made."
She nodded. Her eyes were full of tears, but she
did not hesitate to raise them. She had the greatest
desire to see the face of the man who could speak
like this to-day, and yet of whose pride and sense of
superiority his daughter had stood in such awe, that
she had laid a seal upon the impulses of her heart,
and imposed such tasks and weary waiting upon her
lover. Doris forgot, in meeting his softened glance
and tender, almost wistful, expression, the changes
which can be made by a great grief, and only won-
dered why her sweet benefactress had not taken him
into her confidence and thus, possibly, averted the
doom which Doris felt had in some way grown out
of this secrecy.
I HOPE NEVER TO SEE THAT MAN 245
' Why should she have feared the disapproval of
this man? " she inwardly queried, as she cast him a
confiding look which pleased him greatly, as his tone
;< When I lost my daughter, I lost everything," he
declared, as they walked slowly up the road. " Noth-
ing excites my interest, save that which once excited
hers. I am told that the deepest interest of her life
lay here. I am also told that it was an interest
quite worthy of her. I expect to find it so. I hope
with all my heart to find it so, and that is why I have
come to this town and expect to linger till Mr. Broth-
erson has recovered sufficiently to see me. I hope
that this will be agreeable to him. I hope that I
am not presuming too much in cherishing these ex-
Doris turned her candid eyes upon him.
" I cannot tell; I do not know," said she. " No-
body knows, not even the doctor, what effect the news
we so dread to give him will have upon Mr. Brother-
son. You will have to wait we all shall have to
wait the results of that revelation. It cannot be
kept from him much longer. When I return, I shall
shrink from his first look, in the fear of seeing it be-
tray this dreadful knowledge. Yet I have a faith-
ful woman there to keep every one out of his room."
" You have had much to carry for one so young,"
was Mr. Challoner's sympathetic remark. * You
must let me help you when that awful moment comes.
I am at the hotel and shall stay there till Mr. Broth-
erson is pronounced quite well. I have no other duty
now in life but to sustain htm through his trouble
246 INITIALS ONLY
and then, with what aid he can give, search out and
find the cause of my daughter's death which I will
never admit without the fullest proof, to have been
one of suicide."
" It was not suicide," she declared, vehemently.
" I have always felt sure that it was not; but to-day
Her hand fell clenched on her breast and her eyes
gleamed strangely. Mr. Challoner was himself
greatly startled. What had happened what
could have happened since yesterday that she should
emphasise that now?
" I've not told any one," she went on, as he stopped
short in the road, in his anxiety to understand her.
" But I will tell you. Only, not here, not with all
these people driving past; most of whom know me.
Come to the house later this evening, after Mr.
Brotherson's room is closed for the night. I have
a little sitting-room on the other side of the hall
where we can talk without being heard. Would
you object to doing that? Am I asking too much of
" No, not at all," he assured her. " Expect me at
eight. Will that be too early? "
" No, no. Oh, how those people stared! Let us
hasten back or they may connect your name with what
we want kept secret."
He smiled at her fears, but gave in to her humour ;
he would see her soon again and possibly learn some-
thing which would amply repay him, both for his
trouble and his patience.
I HOPE NEVER TO SEE THAT MAN 247
But when evening came and she turned to face him
in that little sitting-room where he had quietly fol-
lowed her, he was conscious of a change in her man-
ner which forbade these high hopes. The gleam
was gone from her eyes; the tremulous eagerness
from her mobile and sensitive mouth. She had been
thinking in the hours which had passed, and had lost
the confidence of that one impetuous moment. Her
greeting betrayed embarrassment and she hesitated
painfully before she spoke.
" I don't know what you will think of me," she
ventured at last, motioning to a chair but not sitting
herself. ' You have had time to think over what I
said and probably expect something real, some-
thing you could tell people. But it isn't like that.
It's a feeling a belief. I'm so sure "
" Sure of what, Miss Scott? "
She gave a glance at the door before stepping up
nearer. He had not taken the chair she prof-
" Sure that I have seen the face of the man who
murdered her. It was in a dream," she whisperingly
completed, her great eyes misty with awe.
"A dream, Miss Scott?" He tried to hide his
" Yes; I knew that it would sound foolish to you;
it sounds foolish to me. But listen, sir. Listen to
what I have to tell and then you can judge. I was
very much agitated yesterday. I had to write a
letter at Mr. Brotherson's dictation a letter to
her. You can understand my horror and the effort
I made to hide my emotion. I was quite unnerved.
248 INITIALS ONLY
I could not sleep till morning, and then and then
I saw I hope I can describe it."
Grasping at a near-by chair, she leaned on it for
support, closing her eyes to all but that inner vision.
A breathless moment followed, then she murmured
in strained monotonous tones :
" I see it again just as I saw it in the early
morning but even more plainly, if that is possible.
A hall (I should call it a hall, though I don't re-
member seeing any place like it before), with a little
staircase at the side, up which there comes a man,
who stops just at the top and looks intently my way.
There is fierceness in his face a look which means
no good to anybody and as his hand goes to his
overcoat pocket, drawing out something which I can-
not describe, but which he handles as if it were a
pistol, I feel a horrible fear, and and " The
child was staggering, and the hand which was free
had sought her heart where it lay clenched, the
knuckles showing white in the dim light.
Mr. Challoner watched her with dilated eyes, the
spell under which she spoke falling in some degree
upon him. Had she finished? Was this all? No;
she is speaking again, but v:ry low, almost in a whis-
" There is music a crash but I plainly see his
other hand approach the object he is holding. He
takes something from the end the object is pointed
my way I am looking into into what ? I do
not know. I cannot even see him now. The space
where he stood is empty. Everything fades, and I
wake with a loud cry in my ears and a sense of death
I HOPE NEVER TO SEE THAT MAN 249
here" She had lifted her hand and struck at her
heart, opening her eyes as she did so. " Yet it was
not I who had been shot," she added softly.
Mr. Challoner shuddered. This was like the re-
opening of his daughter's grave. But he had en-
tered upon the scene with a full appreciation of the
ordeal awaiting him and he did not lose his calmness,
or the control of his judgment.
" Be seated, Miss Scott," he entreated, taking a
chair himself. " You have described the spot and
some of the circumstances of my daughter's death as
accurately as if you had been there. But you have
doubtless read a full account of those details in the
papers; possibly seen pictures which would make the
place quite real to you. The mind is a strange store-
house. We do not always know what lie: hidden
" That's true," she admitted. " But the man I I
had never seen the man, or any picture of him, and
his face was clearest of all. I should know it if I
saw it anywhere. It is imprinted on my memory as
plainly as yours. Oh, I hope never to see that
Mr. Challoner sighed; he had really anticipated
something from the interview. The disappoint-
ment was keen. A moment of expectation; the thrill
which comes to us all under the shadow of the super-
natural, and then this! a young and imagina-
tive girl's dream, convincing to herself but supplying
nothing which had not already been supplied both
by the facts and his own imagination I A man had
stood at the staircase, and this man had raised his
250 INITIALS ONLY
arm. She said that she had seen something like a
pistol in his hand, but his daughter had not been
shot. This he thought it well enough to point out
Leaning toward her that he might get her full at-
tention, he waited till her eyes met his, then quietly
u Have you ever named this man to yourself? "
She started and dropped her eyes.
" I do not dare to," said she.
" Because I've read in the papers that the man
who stood there had the same name as "
" Tell me, Miss Scott."
" As Mr. Brotherson's brother."
" But you do not think it was his brother? "
" I do not know."
" You've never seen his brother? "
" Nor his picture? "
" No, Mr. Brotherson has none."
"Aren't they friends? Does he never mention
" Very, very rarely. But I've no reason to think
they are not on good terms. I know they corre-
" Yes, Mr. Challoner."
" You must not rely too much upon your
Her eyes flashed to his and then fell again.
" Dreams are not revelations ; they are the repro-
I HOPE NEVER TO SEE THAT MAN 25 1
duction of what already lies hidden in the mind. I
can prove that your dream is such."
" How? " She looked startled.
' You speak of seeing something being leveled at
you which made you think of a pistol."
' Yes, I was looking directly into it."
" But my daughter was not shot. She died from
Doris' lovely face, with its tender lines and girlish
curves, took on r. strange look of conviction which
deepened, rather than melted under his indulgent,
jut penetrating gaze.
" I know that you think so; but my dream says
no. I saw this object. It was pointed directly to-
wards me above all, I saw his face. It was the
face of one whose finger is on the trigger and who
mean? death ; and I believe my dream."
Wei 1 , if- v/as useless to reason further. Gentle in
all else, she was immovable so fur as this idea was
concerned and, seeing this, he let the matter go and
prepared to take his leave.
She seemed to be quite ready for this. Anxiety
about her patient had regained its place in her mind,
and her glance sped constantly toward the door.
Taking her hand in his, he said some kind words,
then crossed to the door and opened it. Instantly
her finger flew to her lips and, obedient to its silent
injunction, he took up his hat in silence, and was pro-
ceeding down the hall, when the bell rang, startling
them both and causing him to step quickly back.
" Who is it? " she asked. " Father's in and vis-
itors seldom come so late."
252 INITIALS ONLY
"Shall I see?"
She nodded, looking strangely troubled as the door
swung open, revealing the tall, strong figure of a
man facing them from the porch.
" A stranger," formed itself upon her lips, and
she was moving forward, when the man suddenly
stepped into the glare of the light, and she stopped,
with a murmur of dismay which pierced Mr. Chal-
loner's heart and prepared him for the words which
now fell shudderingly from her lips:
" It is he ! it is he ! I said that I should know
him wherever I saw him." Then with a quiet turn
towards the intruder, " Oh, why, why, did you come
DO YOU KNOW MY BROTHER
HER hands were thrust out to repel, her features
were fixed; her beauty something wonderful. Or-
lando Brotherson, thus met, stared for a moment at
the vision before him, then slowly and with effort
withdrawing his gaze, he sought the face of Mr.
Challoner with the first sign of open disturbance that
gentleman had ever seen in him.
" Ah," said he, " my welcome is readily under-
stood. I see you far from home, sir." And with
an ironical bow he turned again to Doris, who had
dropped her hands, but in whose cheeks the pallor
still lingered in a way to check the easy flow of words
with which he might have sought to carry off the sit-
"Am I in Oswald Brotherson's house?" he
asked. " I was directed here. But possibly there
may bs some mistake."
" It is here he lives," said she; moving back auto-
matically till she stood again by the threshold of the
small room in which she had received Mr. Chal-
loner. " Do you wish to see him to-night? If so,
I fear it is impossible. He has been very ill and is
not allowed to receive visits from strangers."
" I am not a stranger," announced the newcomer,
with a smile few could see unmoved, it offered such
a contrast to his stern and dominating figure. " I
254 INITIALS ONLY
thought I heard some words of recognition which
would prove your knowledge of that fact."
She did not answer. Her lips had parted, but
her thought or at least the expression of her thought
hung suspended in the terror of this meeting for
which she was not at all prepared. He seemed to
note this terror, whether or not he understood its
cause, and smiled again, as he added:
" Mr. Brotherson must have spoken of his brother
Orlando. I am he, Miss Scott. Will you let me
come in now? "
Her eyes sought those of Mr. Challoner, who
quietly nodded. Immediately she stepped from be-
fore the door which her figure had guarded and, mo-
tioning him to enter, she begged Mr. Challoner, with
an imploring look, to sustain her in the interview she
saw before her. He had no desire for this en-
counter, especially as Mr. Brotherson's glance in his
direction had been anything but conciliatory. He
was quite convinced that nothing was to be gained
by it, but he could not resist her appeal, and followed
them into the little room whose limited dimensions
made the tall Orlando look bigger and stronger and
more lordly in his self-confidence than ever.
" I am sorry it is so late," she began, contem-
plating his intrusive figure with forced composure.
' We have to be very quiet in the evenings so as not
to disturb your brother's first sleep which is of great
importance to him."
' Then I'm not to see him to-night? "
" I pray you to wait. He's he's been a very
DO YOU KNOW MY BROTHER 255
" Dangerously so? "
Orlando continued to regard her with a peculiar
awakening gaze, showing, Mr. Challoner thought,
more interest in her than in his brother, and when
he spoke it was mechanically and as if in sole obedi-
ence to the proprieties of the occasion.
" I did not know he was ill till very lately. His
last letter was a cheerful one, and I supposed that
all was right till chance revealed the truth. I came
on at once. I was intending to come anyway. I
have business here, as you probably know, Miss
She shook her head. " I know very little about
business," said she.
" My brother has not told you why he expected
" He has not even told me that he expected you."
" No? " The word was highly expressive; there
was surprise in it and a touch of wonder, but more
than all, satisfaction. " Oswald was always close-
mouthed," he declared. " It's a good fault; I'm
obliged to the boy."
These last words were uttered with a lightness
which imposed upon his two highly agitated hearers,
causing Mr. Challoner to frown and Doris to shrink
back in indignation at the man who could indulge in
a sportive suggestion in presence of such fears, if not
of such memories, as the situation evoked. But to
one who knew the strong and self-contained man -
to Sweetwater possibly, had he been present, there
was in this very attempt in his quiet manner and
256 INITIALS ONLY
in the strange and fitful flash of his ordinarily quick,
eye, that which showed he was labouring and had
been labouring almost from his first entrance, under
an excitement of thought and feeling which in one
of his powerfully organised nature must end and
that soon in an outburst of mysterious passion which
would carry everything before it. But he did not
mean that it should happen here. He was too ac-
customed to self-command to forget himself in this
presence. He would hold these rampant dogs in
leash till the hour of solitude ; then a glittering
smile twisted his lips as he continued to gaze, first
at the girl who had just entered his life, and then at
the man he had every reason to distrust, and with
that firm restraint upon himself still in full force,
remarked, with a courteous inclination:
" The hour is late for further conversation. I
have a room at the hotel and will return to it at once.
In the morning I hope to see my brother."
He was going, Doris not knowing what to say, Mr.
Challoner not desirous of detaining him, when there
came the sound of a little tinkle from the other side
of the hall, blanching the young girl's cheeks and
causing Orlando Brotherson's brows to rise in peculiar
" My brother? " he asked.
" Yes," came in faltering reply. " He has heard
our voices; I must go to him."
" Say that Orlando wishes him a good night,"
smiled her heart's enemy, with a bow of infinite grace.
She shuddered, and was hastening from the room
when her glance fell on Mr. Challoner. He was
DO YOU KNOW MY BROTHER 257
pale and looked greatly disturbed. The prospect of
being left alone with a man whom she had herself
denounced to him as his daughter's murderer, might
prove a tax to his strength to which she had no right
to subject him. Pausing with an appealing air, she
made him a slight gesture which he at once under-
" I will accompany you into the hall," said he.
' Then if anything is wrong, you have but to speak
But Orlando Brotherson, displeased by this move,
took a step which brought him between the two.
" You can hear her from here if she chooses to
speak. There's a point to be settled between us be-
fore either of us leaves this house, and this oppor-
tunity is as good as another. Go to my brother,
Miss Scott; we will await your return."
A flash from the proud banker's eye; but no de-
mur, rather a gesture of consent. Doris, with a look
of deep anxiety, sped away, and the two men stood
face to face.
It was one of those moments which men recognise
as memorable. What had the one to say or the other
to hear, worthy of this preamble and the more than
doubtful relation in which they stood each to each?
Mr. Challoner had more time than he expected in
which to wonder and gird himself for whatever suffer-
ing or shock awaited him. For, Orlando Brother-
son, unlike his usual self, kept him waiting while he
collected his own wits, which, strange to say, seemed
to have vanished with the girl.
But the question finally came.
25 8 INITIALS ONLY
" Mr. Challoner, do you know my brother? "
" I have never seen him."
" Do you know him? Does he know you? "
" Not at all. We are strangers."
It was said honestly. They did not know each
other. Mr. Challoner was quite correct in his state-
But the other had his doubts. Why shouldn't he
have? The coincidence of finding this mourner if
not avenger of Edith Challoner, in his own direct
radius again, at a spot so distant, so obscure and so
disconnected with any apparent business reason, was
certainly startling enough unless the tie could be
found in his brother's name and close relationship
He, therefore, allowed himself to press the ques-
" Men sometimes correspond who do not know
each other. You knew that a Brotherson lived
" And hoped to learn something about me "
"No; my interest was solely with your brother."
"With my brother? With Oswald? What in-
terest can you have in him apart from me ? Oswald
Suddenly a thought came an unimaginable one;
one with power to blanch even his hardy cheek and
shake a soul unassailable by all small emotions.
"Oswald Brotherson!" he repeated; adding in
unintelligible tones to himself " O. B. The same
initials ! They are following up these initials. Poor
DO YOU KNOW MY BROTHER 259
Oswald." Then aloud : " It hardly becomes me,
perhaps, to question your motives in this attempt at
making my brother's acquaintance. I think I can
guess them; but your labour will be wasted. Os-
wald's interests do not extend beyond this town; they
hardly extend to me. We are strangers, almost.
You will learn nothing from him on the subject which
naturally engrosses you."
Mr. Challoner simply bowed. " I do not feel
called upon," said he, " to explain my reasons for
wishing to know your brother. I will simply satisfy
you upon a point which may well rouse your curiosity.
You remember that that my daughter's last act
was the writing of a letter to a little protegee of hers.
Miss Scott was that protegee. In seeking her, I
came upon him. Do you require me to say more
on this subject? Wait till I have seen Mr. Oswald
Brotherson and then perhaps I can do so."
Receiving no answer to this, Mr. Challoner turned
again to the man who was the object of his deepest
suspicions, to find him still in the daze of that unim-
aginable thought, battling with it, scoffing at it, suc-
cumbing to it and all without a word. Mr. Chal-
loner was without clew to this struggle, but the might
of it and the mystery of it, drove him in extreme agi-
tation from the room. Though proof was lacking,
though proof might never come, nothing could ever
alter his belief from this moment on that Doris was
right in her estimate of this man's guilt, however un-
substantial her reasoning might appear.
How far he might have been carried by this new
conviction; whether he would have left the house
2 6o INITIALS ONLY
without seeing Doris again or exchanging another
word with the man whose very presence stifled him,
he had no opportunity to show, for before he had
taken another step, he encountered the hurrying
figure of Doris, who was returning to her guests with
an air of marked relief.
" He does not know that you are here," she
whispered to Mr. Challoner, as she passed him.
Then, as she again confronted Orlando who hastened
to dismiss his trouble at her approach, she said quite
gaily, " Mr. Brotherson heard your voice, and is
glad to know that you're here. He bade me give
you this key and say that you would have found
things in better shape if he had been in condition to
superintend the removal of the boxes to the place he
had prepared for you before he became ill. I was the
one to do that," she added, controlling her aversion
with manifest effort. " When Mr. Brotherson came
to himself he asked if I had heard about any large
boxes having arrived at the station shipped to his
name. I said that several notices of such had come
to the house. At which he requested me to see that
they were carried at once to the strange looking shed
he had had put up for him in the woods. I thought
that they were for him, and I saw to the thing my-
self. Two or three others have come since and been
taken to the same place. I think you will find noth-
ing broken or disturbed; Mr. Brotherson's wishes
are usually respected."
' That is fortunate for me," was the courteous re-
But Orlando Brotherson was not himself, not at all
DO YOU KNOW MY BROTHER 261
himself as he bowed a formal adieu and withdrew
past the drawn-up sentinel-like figure of Mr. Chal-
loner, without a motion on his part or on the part of
that gentleman to lighten an exit which had some-
thing in it of doom and dread presage.
IT is not difficult to understand Mr. Challoner's feel-
ings or even those of Doris at the moment of Mr.
Brotherson's departure. But why this change in
Brotherson himself? Why this sense of something
new and terrible rising between him and the suddenly
beclouded future? Let us follow him to his lonely
hotel-room and see if we can solve the puzzle.
But first, does he understand his own trouble ? He
does not seem to. For when, his hat thrown aside,
he stops, erect and frowning under the flaring gas-
jet he had no recollection of lighting, his first act was
to lift his hand to his head in a gesture of surprising
helplessness for him, while snatches of broken
sentences fell from his lips among which could be
'What has come to me? Undone in an hour!
Doubly undone ! First by a face and then by this
thought which surely the devils have whispered to me.
Mr. Challoner and Oswald! What is the link be-
tween them? Great God! what is the link? Not
myself? Who then or what? "
Flinging himself into a chair, he buried his face
in his hands. There were two demons to fight
the first in the guise of an angel. Doris ! Unknown
yesterday, unknown an hour ago; but now! Had
there ever been a day an hour when she had
not been as the very throb of his heart, the light of
his eyes, and the crown of all imaginable blisses?
He was startled at his own emotion as he con-
templated her image in his fancy and listened for
the lost echo of the few words she had spoken
words so full of music when they referred to his
brother, so hard and cold when she simply addressed
This was no passing admiration of youth for a
captivating woman. This was not even the love he
had given to Edith Challoner. This was something
springing full-born out of nothing ! a force which,
for the first time in his life, made him complaisant to
the natural weaknesses of man! a dream and yet a
reality strong enough to blot out the past, remake
the present, change the aspect of all his hopes, and
outline a new fate. He did not know himself.
There was nothing in his whole history to give him
an understanding of such feelings as these.
Can a man be seized as it were by the hair, and
swung up on the slopes of paradise or down the
steeps of hell without a forewarning, without the
chance even to say whether he wished such a
cataclysm in his life or no?
He, Orlando Brotherson, had never thought much
of love. Science had been his mistress; ambition his
lode-star. Such feeling as he had acknowledged to
had been for men struggling men, men who were
down-trodden and gasping in the narrow bounds of
poverty and helplessness. Miss Challoner had
roused well, his pride. He could see that now.
The might of this new emotion made plain many
264 INITIALS ONLY
things he had passed by as useless, puerile, unworthy
of a man of mental calibre and might He had
never loved Edith Challoner at any moment of their
acquaintanceship, though he had been sincere in think-
ing that he did. Doris' beauty, the hour he had just
passed with her, had undeceived him.
Did he hail the experience? It was not likely to
bring him joy. This young girl whose image floated
in light before his eyes, would never love him. She
loved his brother. He had heard their names
mentioned together before he had been in town an
hour. Oswald, the cleverest man, Doris, the most
beautiful girl in Western Pennsylvania.
He had accepted the gossip then; he had not seen
her and it all seemed very natural ; hardly worth a
moment's thought. But now!
And here, the other Demon sprang erect and grap-
pled with him before the first one had let go his hold.
Oswald and Challoner ! The secret, unknown
something which had softened J:hat hard man's eye
when his brother's name was mentioned ! He had
noted it and realised the mystery; a mystery before
which sleep and rest must fly ; a mystery to which he
must now give his thought, whatever the cost, what-
ever the loss to those heavenly dreams the magic of
which was so new it seemed to envelope him in the
balm of Paradise. Away, then, image of light ! Let
the faculties thou hast dazed, act again. There is
more than Fate's caprice in Challoner's interest in a
man he never saw. Ghosts of old memories rise and
demand a hearing. Facts, trivial and commonplace
enough to have been lost in oblivion with the day
which gave them birth, throng again from the past,
proving that nought dies without a possibility of
resurrection. Their power over this brooding man
is shown by the force with which his fingers crush
against his bowed forehead. Oswald and Challoner !
Had he found the connecting link? Had it been
could it have been Edith f The preposterous is some-
times true; could it be true in this case?
He recalled the letters read to him as hers in that
room of his in Brooklyn. He had hardly noted them
then, he was so sure of their being forgeries, gotten
up by the police to mislead him. Could they have
been real, the effusions of her mind, the breathings of
her heart, directed to an actual O. B., and that O. B.,
his brother? They had not been meant for him.
He had read enough of the mawkish lines to be sure
of that. None of the allusions fitted in with the facts
of their mutual intercourse. But they might with
those of another man; they might with the possible
acts and affections of Oswald whose temperament
was wholly different from his and who might have
loved her, should it ever be shown that they had met
and known each other. And this was not an impos-
sibility. Oswald had been east, Oswald had even
been in the Berkshires before himself. Oswald -
AVhy it was Oswald who had suggested that he should
go there go where she still was. Why this second
coincidence, if there were no tie if the Challoners
and Oswald were as far apart as they seemed and as
conventionalities would naturally place them. Os-
wald was a sentimentalist, but very reserved about his
sentimentalities. If these suppositions were true, he
266 INITIALS ONLY
had had a sentimentalist's motive for what he did.
As Orlando realised this, he rose from his seat,
aghast at the possibilities confronting him from this
line of thought. Should he contemplate them?
Risk his reason by dwelling on a supposition which
might have no foundation in fact? No. His brain
was too full his purposes too important for any
unnecessary strain to be put upon his faculties. No
thinking! investigation first. Mr. Challoner should
be able to settle this question. He would see him.
Even at this late hour he ought to be able to find him
in one of the rooms below; and, by the force of an ir-
resistible demand, learn in a moment whether he had
to do with a mere chimera of his own overwrought
fancy, or with a fact which would call into play all
the resources of an hitherto unconquered and un-
There was a wood-fire burning in the sitting-room
that night, and around it was grouped a number of
men with their papers and pipes. Mr. Brotherson,
entering, naturally looked that way for the man he
was in search of, and was disappointed not to find
him there; but on casting his glances elsewhere, he
was relieved to see him standing in one of the windows
overlooking the street. His back was to the room
and he seemed to be lost in a fit of abstraction.
As. Orlando crossed to him, he had time to observe
how much whiter was this man's head than in the
last interview he had held with him in the coroner's
office in New York. But this evidence of grief in one
with whom he had little, if anything, in common,
neither touched his feelings nor deterred his step.
The awakening of his heart to new and profound emo-
tions had not softened him towards the sufferings of
others if those others stood without the pale he had
previously raised as the legitimate boundary of a just
He was, as I have said, an extraordinary specimen
of manly vigour in body and in mind, and his presence
in any company always attracted attention and roused,
if it never satisfied, curiosity. Conversation accord-
ingly ceased as he strode up to Mr. Challoner's side,
so that his words were quite audible as he addressed
that gentleman with a somewhat curt:
' You see me again, Mr. Challoner. May I beg
of you a few minutes' further conversation? I will
not detain you long."
The grey head turned, and the many eyes watch-
ing showed surprise at the expression of dislike and
repulsion with which this New York gentleman met
the request thus emphatically urged. But his answer
was courteous enough. If Mr. Brotherson knew a
place where they would be left undisturbed, he would
listen to him if he would be very brief.
For reply, the other pointed to a small room quite
unoccupied which opened cut of the one in which they
then stood. Mr. Challoner bowed and in an other
moment the door closed upon them, to the infinite dis-
appointment of the men about the hearth.
"What do you wish to ask?" was Mr. Chal-
loner's immediate inquiry.
" This. I make no apologies and expect in answer
nothing more than an unequivocal yes or no. You
tell me that you have never met my brother. Can
268 INITIALS ONLY
that be said of the other members of your family
of your deceased daughter, in fact? "
"She was acquainted with Oswald Brotherson?"
" She was."
"Without your knowledge?
" Entirely so."
" Corresponded with him? "
" Not exactly."
"How, not exactly?"
" He wrote to her occasionally. She wrote to
him frequently but she never sent her letters."
The exclamation was sharp, short and conveyed lit-
tle. Yet with its escape, the whole scaffolding of
this man's hold upon life and his own fate went down
in indistinguishable chaos. Mr. Challoner realised
a sense of havoc, though the eyes bent upon his
countenance had not wavered, nor the stalwart figure
" I have read some of those letters," the inventor
finally acknowledged. " The police took great pains
to place them under my eye, supposing them to have
been meant for me because of the initials written on
the wrapper. But they were meant for Oswald.
You believe that now? "
" I know it."
" And that is why I found you in the same house
" It is. Providence has robbed me of my
daughter; if this brother of yours should prove to
be the man I am led to expect, I shall ask him to
take that place in my heart and life which was
A quick recoil, a smothered exclamation on the part
of the man he addressed. A barb had been hidden
in this simple statement which had reached some
deeply-hidden but vulnerable spot in Brotherson's
breast, which had never been pierced before. His
eye which alone seemed alive, still rested piercingly
upon that of Mr. Challoner, but its light was fast
fading, and speedily became lost in a dimness in
which the other seemed to see extinguished the last
upflaring embers of those inner fires which feed the
aspiring soul. It was a sight no man could see un-
moved. Mr. Challoner turned sharply away, in
dread of the abyss which the next word he uttered
might open between them.
But Orlando Brotherson possessed resources of
strength of which, possibly, he was not aware himself.
When Mr. Challoner, still more affected by the
silence than by the dread I have mentioned, turned
to confront him again, it was to find his features com-
posed and his glance clear. He had conquered all
outward manifestation of the mysterious emotion
which for an instant had laid his proud spirit low.
" You are considerate of my brother," were the
words with which he re-opened this painful conversa-
tion. ' You will not find your confidence misplaced.
Oswald is a straightforward fellow, of few faults."
" I believe it. No man can be so universally be-
loved without some very substantial claims to regard.
I am glad to see that your opinion, though given some-
what coldly, coincides with that of his friends."
270 INITIALS ONLY
" I am not given to exaggeration," was the even
The flush which had come into Mr. Challoner's
cheek under the effort he had made to sustain with un-
flinching heroism this interview with the man he
looked upon as his mortal enemy, slowly faded out
till he looked the wraith of himself even to the un-
sympathetic eyes of Orlando Brotherson. A duty lay
before him which would tax to its utmost extent his
already greatly weakened self-control. Nothing
which had yet passed showed that this man realised
the fact that Oswald had been kept in ignorance of
Miss Challoner's death. If these brothers were to
meet on the morrow, it must be with the full under-
standing that this especial topic was to be completely
avoided. But in what words could he urge such a
request upon this man? None suggested themselves,
yet he had promised Miss Scott that he would ensure
his silence in this regard, and it was with this difficulty
and no other he had been struggling when Mr.
Brotherson came upon him in the other room.
" You have still something to say," suggested the
latter, as an oppressive silence swallowed up that icy
sentence I have already recorded.
" I have," returned Mr. Challoner, regaining his
courage under the exigencies of the moment. " Miss
Scott is very anxious to have your promise that you
will avoid all disagreeable topics with your brother
till the doctor pronounces him strong enough to meet
the trouble which awaits him."
" You mean "
" He is not as unhappy as we. He knows nothing
of the affliction which has befallen him. He was
taken ill " The rest was almost inaudible.
But Orlando Brotherson had no difficulty in under-
standing him, and for the second time in this extraor-
dinary interview, he gave evidences of agitation
and of a mind shaken from its equipoise. But only
for an instant. He did not shun the other's gaze
or even maintain more than a momentary silence.
Indeed, he found strength to smile, in a curious, sar-
donic way, as he said :
" Do you think I should be apt to broach this
subject with any one, let alone with him, whose con-
nection with it I shall need days to realise? I'm not
so given to gossip. Besides, he and I have other
topics of interest. I have an invention ready with
which I propose to experiment in a place he has
already prepared for me. We can talk about
The irony, the hardy self-possession with which
this was said struck Mr. Challoner to the heart.
Without a word he wheeled about towards the door.
Without a word, Brotherson stood, watching him go
till he saw his hand fall on the knob when he quietly
prevented his exit by saying:
" Unhappy truths cannot be long concealed.
How soon does the doctor think my brother can
bear these inevitable revelations?"
" He said this morning that if his patient were as
well to-morrow as his present condition gives promise
of, he might be told in another week."
Orlando bowed his appreciation of this fact, but
272 INITIALS ONLY
" Who is to do the telling?"
" Doris. Nobody else could be trusted with so
delicate a task."
" I wish to be present."
Mr. Challoner looked up, surprised at the feeling
with which this request was charged.
"As his brother his only remaining relative,
I have that right. Do you think that Dor that
Miss Scott, can be trusted not to forestall that mo-
ment by any previous hint of what awaits him? "
" If she so promises. But will you exact this
from her? It surely cannot be necessary for me to
say that your presence will add infinitely to the diffi-
culty of her task."
" Yet it is a duty I cannot shirk. I will consult
the doctor about it. I will make him see that I
both understand and shall insist upon my rights in
this matter. But you may tell Miss Doris that I
will sit out of sight, and that I shall not obtrude my-
self unless my name is brought up in an undesirable
The hand on the door-knob made a sudden move-
" Mr. Brotherson, I can bear no more to-night.
With your permission, I will leave this question to be
settled by others." And with a repetition of his
former bow, the bereaved father withdrew.
Orlando watched him till the door closed, then he
too dropped his mask.
But it was on again, when in a little while he
passed through the sitting-room on his way upstairs.
No other day in his whole life had been like this
to the hardy inventor; for in it both his heart and his
conscience had been awakened, and up to this hour he
had not really known that he possessed either.
WHAT IS HE MAKING
OTHER boxes addressed to O. Brotherson had been
received at the station, and carried to the mysterious
shed in the woods; and now, with locked door and
lifted top, the elder brother contemplated his stores
and prepared himself for work.
He had been allowed a short interview with Os-
wald, and he had indulged himself in a few words
with Doris. But he had left those memories behind
with other and more serious matters. Nothing that
could unnerve his hand or weaken his insight should
enter this spot sacred to his great hope. Here
genius reigned. Here he was himself wholly and
without flaw; a Titan with his grasp on a mechan-
ical idea by means of which he would soon rule the
Not so happy were the other characters in this
drama. Oswald's thoughts, disturbed for a short
time by the somewhat constrained interview he had
held with his brother, had flown eastward again, in
silent love and longing; while Doris, with a double
dread now in her heart, went about her daily tasks,
praying for strength to endure the horrors of this
week, without betraying the anxieties secretly devour-
ing her. And she was only seventeen and quite alone
in her trouble. She must bear it all unassisted
and smile, which she did with heavenly sweetness,
WHAT IS HE MAKING 275
when the magic threshold was passed and she stood in
her invalid's presence, overshadowed though it ever
was by the great Dread.
And Mr. Challoner? Let those endless walks of
his through the woods and over the hills tell his story
if they can; or his rapidly whitening hair, and lag-
ging step. He had been a strong man before his
trouble, and had the stroke which laid him low been
limited to one quick, sharp blow he might have risen
above it after a while and been ready to encounter
life again. But this long drawn out misery was
proving too much for him. The sight of Brother-
son, though they never really met, acted like acid
upon a wound, and it was not till six days had passed
and the dreaded Sunday was at hand, that he slept
with any sense of rest or went his way about the town
without that halting at the corners which betrayed his
perpetual apprehension of a most undesirable en-
The reason for this change will be apparent in 'he
short conversation he held with a man he had come
upon one evening in the small park just beyond the
" You see I am here," was the stranger's low
" Thank God," was Mr. Challoner's reply. " I
could not have faced to-morrow alone and I doubt
if Miss Scott could have found the requisite courage.
Does she know that you are here? "
" I stopped at her door."
"Was that safe?"
" I think so. Mr. Brotherson the Brooklyn
276 INITIALS ONLY
one, is up in his shed. He sleeps there now, I am
told, and soundly too I've no doubt."
" What is he making? "
" What half the inventors on both sides of the
water are engaged upon just now. A monoplane, or
a biplane, or some machine for carrying men through
the air. I know, for I helped him with it. But
you'll find that if he succeeds in this undertaking, and
I believe he will, nothing short of fame awaits him.
His invention has startling points. But I'm not go-
ing to give them away. I'll be true enough to him
for that. As an inventor he has my sympathy; but
Well, we will see what we shall see, to-morrow.
You say that he is bound to be present when Miss
Scott relates her tragic story. He won't be the only
unseen listener. I've made my own arrangements
with Miss Scott. If he feels the need of watching
her and his brother Oswald, I feel the need of watch-
' You take a burden of intolerable weight from
my shoulders. Now I shall feel easier about that
interview. But I should like to ask you this: Do
you feel justified in this continued surveillance of a
man who has so frequently, and with such evident sin-
cerity, declared his innocence? "
" I do that. If he's as guiltless as he says he is,
my watchfulness won't hurt him. If he's not, then,
Mr. Challoner, I've but one duty; to match his
strength with my patience. That man is the one
great mystery of the day, and mysteries call for so-
lution. At least, that's the way a detective looks
WHAT IS HE MAKING 277
" May Heaven help your efforts ! "
" I shall need its assistance," was the dry re-
joinder. Sweetwater was by no means blind to the
difficulties awaiting him.
TELL ME, TELL IT ALL
THE day was a grey one, the first of the kind in
weeks. As Doris stepped into the room where Os-
wald sat, she felt how much a ray of sunshine would
have encouraged her and yet how truly these leaden
skies and this dismal atmosphere expressed the gloom
which soon must fall upon this hopeful, smiling man.
He smiled because any man must smile at the en-
trance of so lovely a woman, but it was an abstracted
smile, and Doris, seeing it, felt her courage falter for
a moment, though her steps did not, nor her steady
compassionate gaze. Advancing slowly, and not an-
swering because she did not hear some casual re-
mark of his, she took her stand by his side and then
slowly and with her eyes on his face, sank down upon
her knees, still without speaking, almost without
His astonishment was evident, for her air was
strange and full of presage, as, indeed, she had
meant it to be. But he remained as silent as she,
only reached out his emaciated hand and, laying it
on her head, smiled again but this time far from ab-
stractedly. Then, as he saw her cheeks pale in ter-
ror of the task before her, he ventured to ask gently :
"What is the matter, child? So weary, eh?
Nothing worse than that, I hope."
"Are you quite strong this morning? Strong
TELL ME, TELL IT ALL 279
enough to listen to my troubles ; strong enough to bear
your own if God sees fit to send them? " came hesi-
tatingly from her lips as she watched the effect of
each word, in breathless anxiety.
'Troubles? There can be but one trouble for
me," was his unexpected reply. " That I do not
fear will not fear in my hour of happy recovery.
So long as Edith is well Doris ! Doris 1 You
alarm me. Edith is not ill ; not ill ? "
The poor child could not answer save with her
sympathetic look and halting, tremulous breath; and
these signs, he would not, could not read, his own
words had made such an echo in his ears.
" 111! I cannot imagine Edith ill. I always see
her in my thoughts, as I saw her on that day of our
first meeting; a perfect, animated woman with the
joyous look of a glad, harmonious nature. Noth-
ing has ever clouded that vision. If she were ill I
would have known it. We are so truly one that
Doris, Doris, you do not speak. You know the depth
of my love, the terror of my thoughts. Is Edith
The eyes gazing wildly into his, slowly left his face
and raised themselves aloft, with a sublime look.
Would he understand? Yes, he understood, and the
cry which rang from his lips stopped for a moment
the beating of more than one heart in that little cot-
" Dead ! " he shrieked out, and fell back fainting
in his chair, his lips still murmuring in semi-uncon-
sciousness, " Dead ! dead ! "
Doris sprang to her feet, thinking of nothing but
2 8o INITIALS ONLY
his wavering, slipping life till she saw his breath re-
turn, his eyes refill with light. Then the horror of
what was yet to come the answer which must be
given to the how she saw trembling on his lips,
caused her to sink again upon her knees in an uncon-
scious appeal for strength. If that one sad revela-
tion had been all !
But the rest must be told; his brother exacted it
and so did the situation. Further waiting, further
hiding of the truth would be insupportable after this.
But oh, the bitterness of it! No wonder that she
turned away from those frenzied, wildly-demanding
She trembled and looked behind her. She had not
recognised his voice. Had another entered? Had
his brother dared No, they were alone; seemingly
so, that is. She knew, no one better that they
were not really alone, that witnesses were within hear-
ing, if not within sight.
" Doris," he urged again, and this time she turned
in his direction and gazed, aghast. If the voice were
strange, what of the face which now confronted her.
The ravages of sickness had been marked, but they
were nothing to those made in an instant by a blasting
grief. She was startled, although expecting much,
and could only press his hands while she waited for
the question he was gathering strength to utter. It
was simple when it came; just two words:
She answered them as simply.
" Just as long as you have been ill," said she; then,
TELL ME, TELL IT ALL 281
with no attempt to break the inevitable shock, she
went on: " Miss Challoner was struck dead and you
were taken down with typhoid on the self-same day."
" Struck dead ! Why do you use that word,
struck? Struck dead! she, a young woman. Oh,
Doris, an accident I My darling has been killed in
an accident ! "
1 They do not call it accident. They call it what
it never was. What it never was," she insisted,
pressing him back with frightened hands, as he strove
to rise. " Miss Challoner was " How nearly the
word shot had left her lips. How fiercely above all
else, in that harrowing moment had risen the desire
to fling the accusation of that word into the ears of
him who listened from his secret hiding-place. But
she refrained out of compassion for the man she
loved, and declared instead, " Miss Challoner died
from a wound ; how given, why given, no one knows.
I had rather have died myself than have to tell you
this. Oh, Mr. Brotherson, speak, sob, do anything
She started back, dropping his hands as she did so.
With quick intuition she saw that he must be left to
himself if he were to meet this blow without succumb-
ing. The body must have freedom if the spirit
would not go mad. Conscious, or perhaps not con-
scious, of his release from her restraining hand, al-
beit profiting by it, he staggered to his feet, murmur-
ing that word of doom : " Wound ! wound I my
darling died of a wound ! What kind of a wound? "
he suddenly thundered out. " I cannot understand
what you mean by wound. Make it clear to me.
282 INITIALS ONLY
Make it clear to me at once. If I must bear this
grief, let me know its whole depth. Leave nothing
to my imagination or I cannot answer for myself.
Tell it all, Doris."
And Doris told him :
" She was on the mezzanine floor of the hotel
where she lives. She was seemingly happy and had
been writing a letter a letter to me which they
never forwarded. There was no one else by but some
strangers good people whom one must believe.
She was crossing the floor when suddenly she threw
up her hands and fell. A thin, narrow paper-cutter
was in her grasp; and it flew into the lobby. Some
say she struck herself with that cutter; for when they
picked her up they found a wound in her breast which
that cutter might have made."
The words were chokingly said; he was swaying,
almost falling, but he steadied himself.
" Who says that? " he asked.
" It was the coroner's verdict."
" And she died that way died? "
" After writing to you? "
" What was in that letter? "
" Nothing of threat, they say. Only just cheer
and expressions of hope. Just like the others, Mr.
"And they accuse her of taking her own life?
Their verdict is a lie. They did not know her."
Then, after some moments of wild and confused feel-
TELL ME, TELL IT ALL 283
ing, he declared, with a desperate effort at self-con-
trol : ' You said that some believe this. Then
there must be others who do not. What do they
" Nothing. They simply feel as you do. They
see no reason for the act and no evidence of her
having meditated it. Her father and her friends
insist besides, that she was incapable of such a hor-
ror. The mystery of it is killing us all; me above
others, for I've had to show you a cheerful face, with
my brain reeling and my heart like lead in my
She held out her hands. She tried to draw his
attention to herself; not from any sentiment of ego-
tism, but to break, if she could, the strain of these in-
supportable horrors where so short a time before
Hope sang and Life revelled in re-awakened joys.
Perhaps some faint realisation of this reached him,
for presently he caught her by the hands and bowed
his head upon her shoulder and finally let her seat him
again, before he said:
" Do they know of of my interest in this? "
" Yes; they know about the two O. B.s."
"The two " He was on his feet again, but
only for a moment; his weakness was greater than
his will power.
" Orlando and Oswald Brotherson," she ex-
plained, in answer to his broken appeal. * Your
brother wrote letters to her as well as you, and signed
them just as you did, with his initials only. These
letters were found in her desk, and he was supposed,
for a time, to have been the author of all that were
284 INITIALS ONLY
so signed. But they found out the difference after
awhile. Yours were easily recognised after they
learned there was another O. B. who loved her."
The words were plain enough, but the stricken
listener did not take them in. They carried no mean-
ing to him. How should they? The very idea she
sought to impress upon him by this seemingly care-
less allusion was an incredible one. She found it her
dreadful task to tell him the hard, bare truth.
" Your brother," said she, " was devoted to Miss
Challoner, too. He even wanted to marry her. I
cannot keep back this fact. It is known everywhere,
and by everybody but you."
" Orlando? " His lips took an ironical curve, as
he uttered the word. This was a young girl's im-
aginative fancy to him. ' Why Orlando never knew
her, never saw her, never "
" He met her at Lenox."
The name produced its effect. He stared, made
an effort to think, repeated Lenox over to himself;
then suddenly lost his hold upon the idea which that
word suggested, struggled again for it, seized it in
an instant of madness and shouted out :
' Yes, yes, I remember. I sent him there " and
paused, his mind blank again.
Poor Doris, frightened to her very soul, looked
blindly about for help ; but she did not quit his side ;
she did not dare to, for his lips had reopened; the
continuity of his thoughts had returned; he was going
" I sent him there." The words came in a sort of
shout. " I was so hungry to hear of her and I
TELL ME, TELL IT ALL 285
thought he might mention her in his letter. Insane I
insane ! He saw her and What's that you said
about his loving her? He couldn't have loved her;
he's not of the loving sort. They've deceived you
with strange tales. They've deceived the whole
world with fancies and mad dreams. He may have
admired her, but loved her, no! or if he had, he
would have respected my claims."
u He did not know them."
A laugh; a laugh which paled Doris' cheek; then
his tones grew even again, memory came back and
he muttered faintly:
" That is true. I said nothing to him. He had
the right to court her and he did, you say; wrote
to her; imposed himself upon her, drove her mad
with importunities she was forced to rebuke; and
and what else? There is something else. Tell me;
I will know it all."
He was standing now, his feebleness all gone,
passion in every lineament and his eye alive and fev-
erish, with emotion. " Tell me," he repeated, with
unrestrained vehemence. " Tell me all. Kill me
with sorrow but save me from being unjust."
"He wrote her a letter; it frightened her. He
followed it up by a visit "
Doris paused ; the sentence hung suspended. She
had heard a step a hand on the door.
Orlando had entered the room.
OSWALD had heard nothing, seen nothing. But he
took note of Doris' silence, and turning towards her
in frenzy saw what had happened, and so was in a
measure prepared for the stern, short sentence which
now rang through the room :
' Wait, Miss Scott! you tell the story badly. Let
him listen to me. From my mouth only shall he hear
the stern and seemingly unnatural part I played in
this family tragedy."
The face of Oswald hardened. Those pliant
features beloved for their gracious kindliness
set themselves in lines which altered them almost
beyond recognition; but his voice was not without
some of its natural sweetness, as, after a long and
hollow look at the other's composed countenance, he
"Speak! I am bound to listen; you are my
Orlando turned towards Doris. She was slipping
" Don't go," said he.
But she was gone.
Slowly he turned back.
Oswald raised his hand and checked the words
with which he would have begun his story.
" Never mind the beginnings," said he. " Doris
has told all that. You saw Miss Challoner in Lenox
admired her offered yourself to her and after-
wards wrote her a threatening letter because she re-
" It is true. Other men have followed just such
unworthy impulses and been ashamed and sorry
afterwards. I was sorry and I was ashamed, and as
soon as my first anger was over went to tell her so.
But she mistook my purpose and "
"And what?" '
Orlando hesitated. Even his iron nature trem-
bled before the misery he saw a misery he was
destined to augment rather than soothe. With pains
altogether out of keeping with his character, he
sought in the recesses of his darkened mind for
words less bitter and less abrupt than those which
sprang involuntarily to his lips. But he did not find
them. Though he pitied his brother and wished to
show that he did, nothing but the stern language
suitable to the stern fact he wished to impart, would
leave his lips.
" And ended the pitiful struggle of the moment
with one quick, unpremeditated blow," was what he
said. " There is no other explanation possible for
this act, Oswald. Bitter as it is for me to acknowl-
edge it, I am thus far guilty of this beloved woman's
death. But, as God hears me, from the moment I
first saw her, to the moment I saw her last, I did not
know, nor did I for a moment dream that she was
anything to you or to any other man of my stamp and
288 INITIALS ONLY
station. I thought she despised my country birth,
my mechanical attempts, my lack of aristocratic pre-
tensions and traditions."
" Now that I know she had other reasons for her
contempt that the words she wrote were in rebuke
to the brother rather than to the man, I feel my guilt
and deplore my anger. I cannot say more. I
should but insult your grief by any lengthy expres-
sions of regret and sorrow."
A groan of intolerable anguish from the sick
man's lips, and then the quick thrust of his re-awak-
ened intelligence rising superior to the overthrow of
all his hopes.
" For a woman of Edith's principle to seek death
in a moment of desperation, the provocation must
have been very great. Tell me if I'm to hate you
through life yea through all eternity or if I
must seek in some unimaginable failure of my own
character or conduct the cause of her intolerable de-
" Oswald ! " The tone was controlling, and yet
that of one strong man to another. " Is it for us to
read the heart of any woman, least of all of a woman
of her susceptibilities and keen inner life? The
wish to end all comes to some natures like a lightning
flash from a clear sky. It comes, it goes, often
without leaving a sign. But if a weapon chances to
be near (here it was in hand) then death fol-
lows the impulse which, given an instant of thought,
would have vanished in a back sweep of other emo-
tions. Chance was the real accessory to this death
by suicide. Oswald, let us realise it as such and ac-
cept our sorrow as a mutual burden and turn to
what remains to us of life and labour. Work is
grief's only consolation. Then let us work."
But of all this Oswald had caught but the one
" Chance? " he repeated. " Orlando, I believe in
' Then seek your comfort there. I find it in
harnessing the winds; in forcing the powers of na-
ture to do my bidding."
The other did not speak, and the silence grew
heavy. It was broken, when it was broken, by a
cry from Oswald:
" No more," said he, " no more." Then, in a
yearning accent, " Send Doris to me."
Orlando started. This name coming so close
upon that word comfort produced a strange effect
upon him. But another look at Oswald and he was
ready to do his bidding. The bitter ordeal was
over; let him have his solace if it was in her power
to give it to him.
Orlando, upon leaving his brother's room, did not
stop to deliver that brother's message directly to
Doris; he left this for Truda to do, and retired im-
mediately to his hangar in the woods. Locking
himself in, he slightly raised the roof and then sat
down before the car which was rapidly taking on
shape and assuming that individuality and appear-
ance of sentient life which hitherto he had only seen
in dreams. But his eye, which had never failed to
kindle at this sight before, shone dully in the semi-
290 INITIALS ONLY
gloom. The air-car could wait; he would first have
his hour in this solitude of his own making. The
gaze he dreaded, the words from which he shrank
could not penetrate here. He might even shout her
name aloud, and only these windowless walls would
respond. He was alone with his past, his present and
He needed to be. The strongest must pause when
the precipice yawns before him. The gulf can be
spanned; he feels himself forceful enough for that;
but his eyes must take their measurement of it first;
he must know its depths and possible dangers. Only
a fool would ignore these steeps of jagged rock; and
he was no fool, only a man to whom the unexpected
had happened, a man who had seen his way clear to
the horizon and then had come up against this!
Love, when he thought such folly dead! Remorse,
when Glory called for the quiet mind and heart !
He recognised its mordant fang, and knew that
its ravages, though only just begun, would last his
lifetime. Nothing could stop them now, nothing,
nothing. And he laughed, as the thought went
home; laughed at the irony of fate and its inexor-
ableness; laughed at his own defeat and his nearness
to a barred Paradise. Oswald loved Edith, loved
her yet, with a flame time would take long to quench,
Doris loved Oswald and he Doris; and not one of
them would ever attain the delights each was so
fitted to enjoy. Why shouldn't he laugh? What
is left to man but mockery when all props fall? Dis-
appointment was the universal lot; and it should go
merrily with him if he must take his turn at it. But
here the strong spirit of the man re-asserted itself;
it should be but a turn. A man's joys are not
bounded by his loves or even by the satisfaction of a
perfectly untrammelled mind. Performance makes
a world of its own for the capable and the strong,
and this was still left to him. He, Orlando Broth-
erson, despair while his great work lay unfinished!
That would be to lay stress on the inevitable pains
and fears of commonplace humanity. He was not
of that ilk. Intellect was his god; ambition his mo-
tive power. What would this casual blight upon his
supreme contentment be to him, when with the wings
of his air-car spread, he should spurn the earth and
soar into the heaven of fame simultaneously with his
flight into the open.
He could wait for that hour. He had measured
the gulf before him and found it passable. Hence-
forth no looking back.
Rising, he stood for a moment gazing, with an
alert eye now, upon such sections of his car as had
not yet been fitted into their places; then he bent for-
ward to his work, and soon the lips which had ut-
tered that sardonic laugh a few minutes before,
parted in gentler fashion, and song took the place
of curses a ballad of love and fondest truth. But
Orlando never knew what he sang. He had the
gift and used it.
Would his tones, however, have rung out with
quite so mellow a sweetness had he seen the restless
292 INITIALS ONLY
figure even then circling his retreat with eyes dart-
ing accusation and arms lifted towards him in wild
but impotent threat?
Yes, I think they would ; for he knew that the man
who thus expressed his helplessness along with his
convictions, was no nearer the end he had set himself
to attain than on the day he first betrayed his sus-
THE rfTJT CHANGES ITS NAME
THAT night Oswald was taken very ill. For three
days his life hung in the balance, then youth and
healthy living triumphed over shock and bereave-
ment, and he came slowly back to his sad and crip-
He had been conscious for a week or more of his
surroundings, and of his bitter sorrows as well, when
one morning he asked Doris whose face it was he
had seen bending over him so often during the last
week: "Have you a new doctor? A man with
white hair and a comforting smile? Or have I
dreamed this face? I have had so many fancies
this might easily be one of them."
" No, it is not a fancy," was the quiet reply.
" Nor is it the face of a doctor. It is that of a
friend. One whose heart is bound up in your re-
covery; one for whom you must live, Mr. Brother-
" I don't know him, Doris. It's a strange face to
me. And yet, it's not altogether strange. Who is
this man and why should he care for me so
" Because you share one love and one grief. It
is Edith's father whom you see at your bedside. He
has helped to nurse you ever since you came down this
294 INITIALS ONLY
"Edith's father! Doris, it cannot be. Edith's
" Yes, Mr. Challoner has been in Derby for the
last two weeks. He has only one interest now; to
see you well again."
Doris caught the note of pain, if not suspicion, in
this query, and smiled as she asked in turn:
" Shall he answer that question himself? He is
waiting to come in. Not to talk. You need not
fear his talking. He's as quiet as any man I ever
The sick man closed his eyes, and Doris watch-
ing, saw the flush rise to his emaciated cheek, then
slowly fade away again to a pallor that frightened
her. Had she injured where she would heal? Had
she pressed too suddenly and too hard on the ever
gaping wound in her invalid's breast? She gasped
in terror at the thought, then she faintly smiled, for
his eyes had opened again and showed a calm deter-
mination as he said:
" I should like to see him. I should like him to
answer the question I have just put you. I should
rest easier and get well faster or not get well at
This latter he half whispered, and Doris, tripping
from the room may not have heard it, for her face
showed no further shadow as she ushered in Mr.
Challoner, and closed the door behind him. She
had looked forward to this moment for days. To
Oswald, however, it was an unexpected excitement
and his voice trembled with something more than
THE HUT CHANGES ITS NAME 295
physical weakness as he greeted his visitor and
thanked him for his attentions.
44 Doris says that you have shown me this kind-
ness from the desire you have to see me well again,
Mr. Challoner. Is this true?"
4 Very true. I cannot emphasise the fact too
Oswald's eyes met his again, this time with great
' You must have serious reasons for feeling so
reasons which I do not quite understand. May I
ask why you place such value upon a life which, if
ever useful to itself or others, has lost and lost for-
ever, the one delight which gave it meaning? "
It was for Mr. Challoner's voice to tremble now,
as reaching out his hand, he declared, with unmis-
" I have no son. I have no interest left in life,
outside this room and the possibilities it contains for
me. Your attachment to my daughter has created
a bond between us, Mr. Brotherson, which I sin-
cerely hope to see recognised by you."
Startled and deeply moved, the young man
stretched out a shaking hand towards his visitor,
with the feeble but exulting cry:
" Then you do not blame me for her wretched
and mysterious death. You hold me guiltless of
the misery which nerved her despairing arm? "
" Quite guiltless."
Oswald's wan and pinched features took on a
beautiful expression and Mr. Challoner no longer
wondered at his daughter's choice.
296 INITIALS ONLY
' Thank God ! " fell from the sick man's lips,
and then there was a silence during which their two
It was some minutes before either spoke and then
it was Oswald who said:
" I must confide to you certain facts. I hon-
oured your daughter and realised her position fully.
Our plight was never made in words, nor should I
have presumed to advance any claim to her hand if
I had not made good my expectations, Mr. Chal-
loner. I meant to win both her regard and yours
by acts, not words. I felt that I had a great deal
to do and I was prepared to work and wait. I
loved her " He turned away his head and the
silence which filled up the gap, united those two
hearts, as the old and young are seldom united.
But when a little later, Mr. Challoner rejoined
Doris, in her little sitting-room, he nevertheless
showed a perplexity she had hoped to see removed
by this understanding with the younger Brotherson.
The cause became apparent as soon as he spoke.
" These brothers hold by each other," said he.
" Oswald will hear nothing against Orlando. He
says that he has redeemed his fault. He does not
even protest that his brother's word is to be believed
in this matter. He does not seem to think that nec-
essary. He evidently regards Orlando's personality
as speaking as truly and satisfactorily for itself, as his
own does. And I dared not undeceive him."
" He does not know all our reasons for distrust.
He has heard nothing about the poor washer-
THE HUT CHANGES ITS NAME 297
" No, and he must not, not for weeks. He has
borne all that he can."
" His confidence in his older brother is sublime.
I do not share it; but I cannot help but respect him
It was warmly said, and Mr. Challoner could not
forbear casting an anxious look at her upturned face.
What he saw there made him turn away with a sigh.
' This confidence has for me a very unhappy side,"
he remarked. " It shows me Oswald's thought.
He who loved her best, accepts the cruel verdict of
an unreasoning public."
Doris' large eyes burned with a weird light upon
" He has not had my dream," she murmured, with
all the quiet of an unmoved conviction.
Yet as the days went by, even her manner changed
towards the busy inventor. It was hardly possible
for it not to. The high stand he took; the regard
accorded him on every side; his talent; his conver-
sation, which was an education in itself, and, above
all, his absorption in a work daily advancing towards
completion, removed him so insensibly and yet so
decidedly, from the hideous past of tragedy with
which his name, if not his honour, was associated,
that, unconsciously to herself, she gradually lost her
icy air of repulsion and lent him a more or less at-
tentive ear, when he chose to join their small com-
pany of an evening. The result was that he turned
so bright a side upon her that toleration merged
from day to day into admiration and memory lost
itself in anticipation of the event which was to prove
298 INITIALS ONLY
him a man of men, if not one of the world's greatest
Meantime, Oswald was steadily improving in
health, if not in spirits. He had taken his first walk
without any unfavourable results, and Orlando de-
cided from this that the time had come for an ex-
planation of his device and his requirements in re-
gard to it. Seated together in Oswald's room, he
broached the subject thus:
" Oswald, what is your idea about what I'm mak-
ing up there ? "
" That it will be a success."
" I know; but its character, its use? What do you
think it is? "
"I've an idea; but my idea don't fit the condi-
" The shed is too closely hemmed in. You
haven't room "
" To start an aeroplane."
" Yet it is certainly a device for flying."
" I supposed so; but "
" It is an air-car with a new and valuable idea
the idea for which the whole world has been seeking
ever since the first aeroplane found its way up from
the earth. My car needs no room to start in save
that w r hich it occupies. If it did, it would be but
the modification of a hundred others."
As Oswald thus gave expression to his surprise,
their two faces were a study: the fire of genius in
THE HUT CHANGES ITS NAME 299
the one; the light of sympathetic understanding in
" If this car, now within three days of its comple-
tion," Orlando proceeded, " does not rise from the
oval .of my hangar like a bird from its nest, and after
a wide and circling flight descend again into the self-
same spot without any swerving from its direct
course, then have I failed in my endeavour and must
take a back seat with the rest. But it will not fail.
I'm certain of success, Oswald. All I want just now
is a t sympathetic helper you, for instance; some
one who will aid me with the final fittings and hold
his peace to all eternity if the impossible occurs and
the thing proves a failure."
" Have you such pride as that? "
" So much that you cannot face failure? "
" Not when attached to my name. You can see
how I feel about that by the secrecy I have worked
under. No other person living knows what I have
just communicated to you. Every part shipped here
came from different manufacturing firms; sometimes
a part of a part was all I allowed to be made in any
one place. My fame, like my ship, must rise with
one bound into the air, or it must never rise at all. I
was not made for petty accomplishment, or the slow
plodding of commonplace minds. I must startle, or
remain obscure. That is why I chose this place for
my venture, and you for my helper and associate."
" You want me to ascend with you? "
" At the end of three days?"
3 oo INITIALS ONLY
" Orlando, I cannot."
" You cannot? Not strong enough yet? I'll
wait then, three days more."
" The time's too short. A month is scarcely suffi-
cient. It would be folly, such as you never show, to
trust a nerve so undermined as mine till time has
restored its power. For an enterprise like this you
need a man of ready strength and resources ; not one
whose condition you might be obliged to consider at
a very critical moment."
Orlando, balked thus at the outset, showed his
" You do not do justice to your will. It is strong
enough to carry you through anything."
" It was."
" You can force it to act for you."
" I fear not, Orlando."
" I counted on you and you thwart me at the most
critical moment of my life."
Oswald smiled; his whole candid and generous na-
ture bursting into view, in one quick flash.
" Perhaps," he assented; " but you will thank me
when you realise my weakness. Another man must
be found quick, deft, secret, yet honourably alive
to the importance of the occasion and your rights as
a great original thinker and mechanician."
" Do you know such a man? "
" I don't; but there must be many such among
' There isn't one; and I haven't time to send to
Brooklyn. I reckoned on you."
THE HUT CHANGES ITS NAME 301
" Can you wait a month? "
"A fortnight, then?"
" No, not ten days."
Oswald looked surprised. He would like to have
asked why such precipitation was necessary, but the
tone in which this ultimatum was given was of that
decisive character which admits of no argument.
He, therefore, merely looked his query. But Or-
lando was not one to answer looks; besides, he had
no reply for the same importunate question urged
by his own good sense. He knew that he must
make the attempt upon which his future rested soon,
and without risk of the sapping influence of length-
ened suspense and weeks of waiting. He could hold
on to those two demons leagued in attack against
him, for a definite seven days, but not for an inde-
terminate time. If he were to be saved from folly,
from himself events must rush.
He, therefore, repeated his no, with increased
vehemence, adding, as he marked the reproach in his
brother's eye, " I cannot wait. The test must be
made on Saturday evening next, whatever the condi-
tions; whatever the weather. An air-car to be
serviceable must be ready to meet lightning and
tempest, and what is worse, perhaps, an insufficient
crew." Then rising, he exclaimed, with a determi-
nation which rendered him majestic, " // help is not
forthcoming, I'll do it all myself. Nothing shall
hold me back; nothing shall stop me; and when you
see me and my car rise above the treetops, you'll feel
that I have done what I could to make you forget "
302 INITIALS ONLY
He did not^ need to continue. Oswald understood
and flashed a grateful look his way before saying:
" You will make the attempt at night? "
"And on Saturday?"
" I've said it."
" I will run over in my mind the qualifications of
such men as I know and acquaint you with the result
" There are adjustments to be made. A man of
accuracy is necessary."
" I will remember."
" And he must be likable. I can do nothing with
a man with whom I'm not perfectly in accord."
" I understand that."
" Good-night then." A moment of hesitancy, then,
" I wish not only yourself but Miss Scott to be pres-
ent at this test. Prepare her for the spectacle; but
not yet, not till within an hour or two of the occa-
And with a proud smile in which flashed a sig-
nificance which startled Oswald, he gave a hurried
nod and turned away.
When in an hour afterwards, Doris looked in
through the open door, she found Oswald sitting with
face buried in his hands, thinking so deeply that he
did not hear her. He had sat like this, immovable
and absorbed, ever since his brother had left him.
SILENCE AND A KNOCK
OSWALD did not succeed in finding a man to please
Orlando. He suggested one person after another
to the exacting inventor, but none were satisfactory
to him and each in turn was turned down. It is not
every one we want to have share a world-wide tri-
umph or an ignominious defeat. And the days were
He had said in a moment of elation, " / will do it
alone; " but he knew even then that he could not.
Two hands were necessary to start the car; after-
wards, he might manage it alone. Descent was even
possible, but to give the contrivance its first lift re-
quired a second mechanician. Where was he to find
one to please him? And what was he to do if he
did not? Conquer his prejudices against such men
as he had seen, or delay the attempt, as Oswald had
suggested, till he could get one of his old cronies on
from New York. He could do neither. The ob-
stinacy of his nature was such as to offer an invincible
barrier against either suggestion. One alternative re-
mained. He had heard of women aviators. If
Doris could be induced to accompany him into the
air, instead of clinging sodden-like to the weight of
Oswald's woe, then would the world behold a tri-
umph which would dwarf the ecstasy of the bird's
flight and rob the eagle of his kingly pride. But
304 INITIALS ONLY
Doris barely endured him as yet, and the thought
was not one to be considered for a moment. Yet
what other course remained? He was brooding
deeply on the subject, in his hangar one evening
(it was Thursday and Saturday was but two days
off) when there came a light knock at the door.
This had never occurred before. He had given
strict orders, backed by his brother's authority, that
he was never to be intruded upon when in this place ;
and though he had sometimes encountered the pry-
ing eyes of the curious flashing from behind the
trees encircling the hangar, his door had never been
approached before, or his privacy encroached upon.
He started then, when this low but penetrating
sound struck across the turmoil of his thoughts, and
cast one look in the direction from which it came;
but he did not rise, or even change his position on
his workman's stool.
Then it came again, still low but with an insist-
ence which drew his brows together and made his
hand fall from the wire he had been unconsciously
holding through the mental debate which was ab-
sorbing him. Still he made no response, and the
knocking continued. Should he ignore it entirely,
start up his motor and render himself oblivious to
all other sounds? At every other point in his career
he would have done this, but an unknown, and as
yet unnamed, something had entered his heart dur-
ing this fatal month, which made old ways im-
possible and oblivion a thing he dared not court too
recklessly. Should this be a summons from Doris !
Should (inconceivable idea, yet it seized upon him
SILENCE AND A KNOCK 305
relentlessly and would not yield for the asking)
should it be Doris herself I
Taking advantage of a momentary cessation of
the ceaseless tap tap, he listened. Silence was never
profounder than in this forest on that windless night.
Earth and air seemed, to his strained ear, emptied
of all sound. The clatter of his own steady, un-
hastened heart-beat was all that broke upon the still-
ness. He might be alone in the Universe for all
token of life beyond these walls, or so he was saying
to himself, when sharp, quick, sinister, the knock-
ing recommenced, demanding admission, insisting
upon attention, drawing him against his own will to
his feet, and finally, though he made more than one
stand against it, to the very door.
"Who's there?" he asked, imperiously and with
some show of anger.
No answer, but another quiet knock.
" Speak! or go from my door. No one has the
right to intrude here. What is your name and busi-
Continued knocking nothing more.
With an outburst of wrath, which made the han-
gar ring, Orlando lifted his fist to answer this ap-
peal in his own fierce fashion from his own side of
the door, but the impulse paused at fulfilment, and
he let his arm fall again in a rush of self-hatred which
it would have pained his worst enemy, even little
Doris, to witness. As it reached his side, the knock
It was too much. With an oath, Orlando reached
for his key. But before fitting it into the lock, he
306 INITIALS ONLY
cast a look behind him. The car was in plain sight,
filling the central space from floor to roof. A
single glance from a stranger's eye, and its principal
secret would be a secret no longer. He must not
run such a risk. Before he answered this call, he
must drop the curtain he had rigged up against such
emergencies as these. He had but to pull a cord
and a veil would fall before his treasure, concealing
it as effectually as an Eastern bride is concealed be-
hind her yashmak.
Stepping to the wall, he drew that cord, then with
an impatient sigh, returned to the door.
Another quiet but insistent knock greeted him.
In no fury now, but with a vague sense of portent
which gave an aspect of farewell to the one quick
glance he cast about the well-known spot, he fitted the
key in the lock, and stood ready to turn it.
" I ask again your name and your business," he
shouted out in loud command. " Tell them or "
He meant to say, " or I do not turn this key." But
something withheld the threat. He knew that it
would perish in the utterance; that he could not carry
it out. He would have to open the door now, re-
sponse or no response. " Speak ! " was the word
with which he finished his demand.
A final knock.
Pulling a pistol from his pocket, with his left
hand, he turned the key with his right.
The door remained unopened.
Stepping slowly back, he stared at its unpainted
boards for a moment, then he spoke up quietly, al-
most courteously :
SILENCE AND A KNOCK 307
But the command passed unheeded; the latch was
not raised, and only the slightest tap was heard.
With a bound he reached forward and pulled the
door open. Then a great silence fell upon him and
a rigidity as of the grave seized and stiffened his
The man confronting him from the darkness was
THE MAN WITHIN AND THE MAN WITHOUT
AN instant of silence, during which the two men
eyed each other; then, Sweetwater, with an ironical
smile directed towards the pistol lightly remarked:
" Mr. Challoner and other men at the hotel are
acquainted with my purpose and await my return.
I have come " here he cast a glowing look at the
huge curtain cutting off the greater portion of the
illy-lit interior "to offer you my services, Mr.
Brotherson. I have no other motive for this in-
trusion than to be of use. I am deeply interested in
your invention, to the development of which I have
already lent some aid, and can bring to the test you
propose a sympathetic help which you could hardly
find in any other person living."
The silence which settled down at the completion
of these words had a weight which made that of
the previous moment seem light and all athrob with
sound. The man within had not yet caught his
breath; the man without held his, in an anxiety which
had little to do with the direction of the weapon,
into which he looked. Then an owl hooted far
away in the forest, and Orlando, slowly lowering his
arm, asked in an oddly constrained tone :
" How long have you been in town? "
The answer cut clean through any lingering hope
he may have had.
WITHIN AND WITHOUT 309
" Ever since the day your brother was told the
story of his great misfortune."
" Ah ! still at your old tricks ! I thought you had
quit that business as unprofitable."
" I don't know. I never expect quick returns.
He who holds on for a rise sometimes reaps un-
The arm and fist of Orlando Brotherson ached to
hurl this fellow back into the heart of the midnight
But they remained quiescent and he spoke instead :
" I have buried the business. You will never re-
suscitate it through me."
Sweetwater smiled. There was no mirth in his
smile though there was lightness in his tone as he
" Then let us go back to the matter in hand.
You need a helper; where are you going to find one
if you don't take me? "
A growl from Brotherson's set lips. Never had
he looked more dangerous than in the one burning in-
stant following this daring repetition of the detect-
ive's outrageous request. But as he noted how
slight was the figure opposing him from the other
side of the threshold, he was swayed by his natural
admiration of pluck in the physically weak, and lost
his threatening attitude, only to assume one which
Sweetwater secretly found it even harder to meet.
" You are a fool," was the stinging remark he
heard flung at him. " Do you want to play the
police-officer here and arrest me in mid air? "
" Mr. Brotherson, you understand me as little
3 io INITIALS ONLY
as I am supposed to understand you. Humble as my
place is in society and, I may add, in the Department
whose interests I serve, there are in me two men.
One you know passably well the detective whose
methods, only indifferently clever show that he has
very much to learn. Of the other the workman
acquainted with hammer and saw, but with some
knowledge too of higher mathematics and the princi-
ples upon which great mechanical inventions depend,
you know little, and must imagine much. I was play-
ing the gawky when I helped you in the old house in
Brooklyn. I was interested in your air-ship Oh,
I recognised it for what it was, notwithstanding its
oddity and lack of ostensible means for flying but
I was not caught in the whirl of its idea ; the idea by
which you doubtless expect, and with very good rea-
son too, to revolutionise the science of aviation. But
since then I've been thinking it over, and am so filled
with your own hopes that either I must have a hand
in the finishing and sailing of the one you have your-
self constructed, or go to work myself on the hints
you have unconsciously given me, and make a car of
Audacity often succeeds where subtlier means fail.
Orlando, with a curious twist of his strong lip, took
hold of the detective's arm and drew him in, shut-
ting and locking the door carefully behind him.
" Now," said he, " you shall tell me what you
think you have discovered, to make any ideas of your
own available in the manufacture of a superior self-
Sweetwater who had been so violently wheeled
WITHIN AND WITHOUT 311
about in entering that he stood with his back to the
curtain concealing the car, answered without hesita-
' You have a device, entirely new so far as I
can judge, by which this car can leap at once into
space, hold its own in any direction, and alight again
upon any given spot without shock to the machine or
danger to the people controlling it."
" Explain the device."
" I will draw it."
" As I see it."
" As you see it! "
" Yes. It's a brilliant idea ; I could never have
" You believe "
" I know."
" Sit here. Let's see what you know."
Sweetwater sat down at the table the other pointed
out, and drawing forward a piece of paper, took up
a pencil with an easy air. Brotherson approached
and stood at his shoulder. He had taken up his
pistol again, why he hardly knew, and as Sweetwater
began his marks, his fingers tightened on its butt
till they turned white in the murky lamplight.
" You see," came in easy tones from the stooping
draughtsman, " I have an imagination which only
needs a slight fillip from a mind like yours to send
it in the desired direction. I shall not draw an
exact reproduction of your idea, but I think you
will see that I understand it very well. How's that
for a start? "
3 i2 INITIALS ONLY
Brotherson looked and hastily drew back. He
did not want the other to note his surprise.
" But that is a portion you never saw," he loudly
" No, but I saw this," returned Sweetwater, work-
ing busily on some curves; " and these gave me the
fillip I mentioned. The rest came easily."
Brotherson, in dread of his own anger, threw his
pistol to the other end of the shed:
" You knave ! You thief ! " he furiously cried.
"How so?" asked Sweetwater smilingly, rising
and looking him calmly in the face. " A thief is
one who appropriates another man's goods, or, let
us say, another man's ideas. I have appropriated
nothing yet. I've only shown you how easily
I could do so. Mr. Brotherson, take me in as your
assistant. I will be faithful to you, I swear it. I
want to see that machine go up."
" For how many people have you drawn those
lines? " thundered the inexorable voice.
" For nobody ; not for myself even. This is the first
time they have left their hiding-place in my brain."
" Can you swear to that? "
" I can and will, if you require it. But you ought
to believe my word, sir. I am square as a die in all
matters not connected well, not connected with
my profession," he smiled in a burst of that whimsi-
cal humour, which not even the seriousness of the
moment could quite suppress.
" And what surety have I that you do not con-
sider this very matter of mine as coming within the
bounds you speak of?"
WITHIN AND WITHOUT 313
" None. But you must trust me that far."
Brotherson surveyed him with an irony which con-
veyed a very different message to the detective than
any he had intended. Then quickly:
' To how many have you spoken, dilating upon
this device, and publishing abroad my secret? "
" I have spoken to no one, not even to Mr. Gryce.
That shows my honesty as nothing else can."
' You have kept my secret intact? "
" Entirely so, sir."
" So that no one, here or elsewhere, shares our
knowledge of the new points in this mechanism? "
" I say so, sir."
' Then if I should kill you," came in ferocious
accents, " now here "
' You would be the only one to own that knowl-
edge. But you won't kill me."
" Need I go into reasons? "
"Why? I say."
" Because your conscience is already too heavily
laden to bear the burden of another unprovoked
Brotherson, starting back, glared with open feroc-
ity upon the man who dared to face him with such an
" God ! why didn't I shoot you on entrance I " he
cried. " Your courage is certainly colossal."
A fine smile, without even the hint of humour now,
touched the daring detective's lip. Brotherson's
anger seemed to grow under it, and he loudly re-
3 i4 INITIALS ONLY
"It's more than colossal; it's abnormal and "
A moment's pause, then with ironic pauses " and
quite unnecessary save as a matter of display, unless
you think you need it to sustain you through the or-
deal you are courting. You wish to help me finish
and prepare for flight? "
" I sincerely do."
" You consider yourself competent? "
" I do."
Brotherson's eyes fell and he walked once to the
extremity of the oval flooring and back.
" Well, we will grant that. But that's not all
that is necessary. My requirements demand a com-
panion in my first flight. Will you go up in the car
with me on Saturday night? "
A quick affirmative was on Sweetwater's lips but
the glimpse which he got of the speaker's face glower-
ing upon him from the shadows into which Brother-
son had withdrawn, stopped its utterance, and the
silence grew heavy. Though it may not have lasted
long by the clock, the instant of breathless contem-
plation of each other's features across the interven-
ing space was of incalculable moment to Sweetwater,
and, possibly, to Brotherson. As drowning men are
said to live over their whole history between their
first plunge and their final rise to light and air, so
through the mind of the detective rushed the memo-
ries of his past and the fast fading glories of his
future ; and rebelling at the subtle peril he saw in that
sardonic eye, he vociferated an impulsive:
" No! I'll not " and paused, caught by a new
and irresistible sensation.
WITHIN AND WITHOUT 315
A breath of wind the first he had felt that
night had swept in through some crevice in the
curving wall, flapping the canvas enveloping the
great car. It acted like a peal to battle. After all,
a man must take some risks in his life, and his heart
was in this trial of a redoubtable mechanism in which
he had full faith. He could not say no to the pros-
pect of being the first to share a triumph which
would send his name to the ends of the earth; and,
changing the trend of his sentence, he repeated with
a calmness which had the force of a great decision:
" I will not fail you in anything. If she rises "
here his trembling hand fell on the curtain shutting
off his view of the ship, " she shall take me with her,
so that when she descends I may be the first to con-
gratulate the proud inventor of such a marvel."
" So be it! " shot from the other's lips, his eyes
losing their threatening look, and his whole counte-
nance suddenly aglow with the enthusiasm of
Coming from the shadows, he laid his hand on the
cord regulating the rise and fall of the concealing
" Here she is ! " he cried and drew the cord.
The canvas shook, gathered itself into great folds
and disappeared in the shadows from which he had
The air-car stood revealed a startling, because
wholly unique, vision.
Long did Sweetwater survey it, then turning with
beaming face upon the watchful inventor, he uttered
a loud Hurrah.
3 i6 INITIALS ONLY
Next moment, with everything forgotten between
them save the glories of this invention, both dropped
simultaneously to the floor and began that minute
examination of the mechanism necessary to their
HIS GREAT HOUR
SATURDAY night at eight o'clock.
So the fiat had gone forth, with no concession to
be made on account of weather.
As Oswald came from his supper and took a look
at the heavens from the small front porch, he was
deeply troubled that Orlando had remained so ob-
stinate on this point. For there were ominous clouds
rolling up from the east, and the storms in this region
of high mountains and abrupt valleys were not light,
nor without danger even to those with feet well-
planted upon mother earth.
If the tempest should come up before eight I
Mr. Challoner, who, from some mysterious im-
pulse of bravado on the part of Brotherson, was to
be allowed to make the third in this small band of
spectators, was equally concerned at this sight, but
not for Brotherson. His fears were for Oswald,
whose slowly gathering strength could illy bear the
strain which this additional anxiety for his brother's
life must impose upon him. As for Doris, she was
in a state of excitement more connected with the past
than with the future. That afternoon she had laid
her hand in that of Orlando Brotherson, and wished
him well. She I in whose breast still lingered remi-
niscences of those old doubts which had beclouded his
image for her at their first meeting. She had not
318 INITIALS ONLY
been able to avoid it. His look was a compelling
one, and it had demanded thus much from her; and
a terrible thought to her gentle spirit he might
be going to his death !
It had been settled by the prospective aviator that
they were to watch for the ascent from the mouth of
the grassy road leading in to the hangar. The three
were to meet there at a quarter to eight and await the
stroke and the air-car's rise. That time was near,
and Mr. Challoner, catching a glimpse of Oswald's
pallid and unnaturally drawn features, as he set down
the lantern he carried, shuddered with foreboding and
wished the hour passed.
Doris' watchful glance never left the face whose
lightest change was more to her than all Orlando's
hopes. But the result upon her was not to weaken
her resolution, but to strengthen it. Whatever the
outcome of the next few minutes, she must stand
ready to sustain her invalid through it. That the
darkness of early evening had deepened to oppres-
sion, was unnoticed for the moment. The fears of
an hour past had been forgotten. Their attention
was too absorbed in what was going on before them,
for even a glance overhead.
Suddenly Mr. Challoner spoke.
' Who is the man whom Mr. Brotherson has asked
to go up with him? "
It was Oswald who answered.
" He has never told me. He has kept his own
counsel about that as about everything else connected
with this matter. He simply advised me that I was
HIS GREAT HOUR 319
not to bother about him any more ; that he had found
the assistant he wanted."
" Such reticence seems unpardonable. You have
displayed great patience, Oswald."
" Because I understand Orlando. He reads men's
natures like a book. The man he trusts, we may
trust. To-morrow, he will speak openly enough.
All cause for reticence will be gone."
' You have confidence then in the success of this
" If I hadn't, I should not be here. I could hardly
bear to witness his failure, even in a secret test like
this. I should find it too hard to face him after-
" I don't understand."
" Orlando has great pride. If this enterprise fails
I cannot answer for him. He would be capable of
anything. Why, Doris! what is the matter, child?
I never saw you look like that before."
She had been down on her knees regulating the
lantern, and the sudden flame, shooting up, had
shown him her face turned up towards his in an
apprehension which verged on horror.
" Do I look frightened? " she asked, remembering
herself and lightly rising. " I believe that I am a lit-
tle frightened. If if anything should go wrong!
If an accident " But here she remembered herself
again and quickly changed her tone. " But your
confidence shall be mine. I will believe in his good
angel or or in his self-command and great resolu-
tion. I'll not be frightened any more."
320 INITIALS ONLY
But Oswald did not seem satisfied. He continued
to look at her in vague concern.
He hardly knew what to make of the intense feel-
ing she had manifested. Had Orlando touched her
girlish heart? Had this cold-blooded nature, with
its steel-like brilliancy and honourable but stern views
of life, moved this warm and sympathetic soul to
more than admiration? The thought disturbed him
so he forgot the nearness of the moment they were
all awaiting till a quick rasping sound from the han-
gar, followed by the sudden appearance of an ever-
widening band of light about its upper rim, drew
his attention and awakened them all to a breathless
The lid was rising. Now it was half-way up, and
now, for the first time, it was lifted to its full height
and stood a broad oval disc against the background
of the forest. The effect was strange. The hangar
had been made brilliant by many lamps, and their
united glare pouring from its top and illuminating
not only the surrounding treetops but the broad face
of this uplifted disc, roused in the awed spectator
a thrill such as in mythological times might have
greeted the sudden sight of Vulcan's smithy blazing
on Olympian hills. But the clang of iron on iron
would have attended the flash and gleam of those un-
expected fires, and here all was still save for that
steady throb never heard in Olympus or the halls of
Valhalla, the pant of the motor eager for flight in the
As they listened in a trance of burning hope which
obliterated all else, this noise and all others near
HIS GREAT HOUR 321
and distant, was suddenly lost in a loud clatter of
writhing and twisting boughs which set the forest in
a roar and seemed to heave the air about them.
A wind had swooped down from the east, bending
everything before it and rattling the huge oval on
which their eyes were fixed as though it would tear it
from its hinges.
The three caught at each other's hands in dismay.
The storm had come just on the verge of the enter-
prise, and no one might guess the result.
"Will he dare? Will he dare?" whispered
Doris, and Oswald answered, though it seemed next
to impossible that he could have heard her :
" He will dare. But will he survive it? Mr.
Challoner," he suddenly shouted in that gentleman's
ear, "what time is it now?"
Mr. Challoner, disengaging himself from their
mutual grasp, knelt down by the lantern to consult his
" One minute to eight," he shouted back.
The forest was now a pandemonium. Great
boughs, split from their parent trunks, fell crashing
to the ground in all directions. The scream of the
wind roused echoes which repeated themselves, here,
there and everywhere. No rain had fallen yet, but
the sight of the clouds skurrying pell-mell through
the glare thrown up from the shed, created such havoc
in the already overstrained minds of the three on-
lookers, that they hardly heeded, when with a clat-
ter and crash which at another time would have
startled them into flight, the swaying oval before them
was whirled from its hinges and thrown back against
322 INITIALS ONLY
the' trees already bending under the onslaught of the
tempest. Destruction seemed the natural accompani-
ment of the moment, and the only prayer which
sprang to Oswald's lips was that the motor whose
throb yet lingered in their blood though no longer
taken in by the ear, would either refuse to work or
prove insufficient to lift the heavy car into this seeth-
ing tumult of warring forces. His brother's life
hung in the balance against his fame, and he could
not but choose life for him. Yet, as the multitudi-
nous sounds about him yielded for a moment to that
brother's shout, and he knew that the moment had
come, which would soon settle all, he found himself
staring at the elliptical edge of the hangar, with an
anticipation which held in it as much terror as joy,
for the end of a great hope or the beginning of a
great triumph was compressed into this trembling
instant and if
Great God ! he sees it ! They all see it ! Plainly
against that portion of the disc which still lifted itself
above the further wall, a curious moving mass ap-
pears, lengthens, takes on shape, then shoots sud-
denly aloft, clearing the encircling tops of the bend-
ing, twisting and tormented trees, straight into the
heart of the gale, where for one breathless moment it
whirls madly about like a thing distraught, then in
slow but triumphant obedience to the master hand
that guides it, steadies and mounts majestically up-
ward till it is lost to their view in the depths of im-
Orlando Brotherson has accomplished his task.
He has invented a mechanism which can send an air-
HIS GREAT HOUR 323
car straight up from its mooring place. As the three
watchers realise this, Oswald utters a cry of triumph,
and Doris throws herself into Mr. Challoner's arms.
Then they all stand transfixed again, waiting for a
descent which may never come.
But hark! a new sound, mingling its clatter with
all the others. It is the rain. Quick, maddening,
drenching, it comes; enveloping them in wet in a mo-
ment. Can they hold their faces up against it?
And the wind ! Surely it must toss that aerial mes-
senger before it and fling it back to earth, a broken
and despised toy.
" Orlando? " went up in a shriek. " Orlando? "
Oh, for a ray of light in those far-off heavens!
For a lull in the tremendous sounds shivering the
heavens and shaking the earth 1 But the tempest
rages on, and they can only wait, five minutes, ten
minutes, looking, hoping, fearing, without thought of
self and almost without thought of each other, till
suddenly as it had come, the rain ceases and the wind,
with one final wail of rage and defeat, rushes away
into the west, leaving behind it a sudden silence which,
to their terrified hearts, seems almost more dreadful
to bear than the accumulated noises of the moment
Orlando was in that shout of natural forces, but he
is not in this stillness. They look aloft, but the
heavens are void. Emptiness is where life was. Os-
wald begins to sway, and Doris, remembering him
now and him only, has thrown her strong young arm
about him, when What is this sound they hear
high up, high up, in the rapidly clearing vault of
3 2 4 INITIALS ONLY
the heavens 1 A throb a steady pant, drawing
near and yet nearer, entering the circlet of great
branches over their heads descending, slowly de-
scending, till they catch another glimpse of those
hazy outlines which had no sooner taken shape than
the car disappeared from their sight within the el-
liptical wall open to receive it.
It had survived the gale! It has re-entered its
haven, and that, too, without colliding with aught
around or any shock to those within, just as Orlando
had promised; and the world was henceforth his!
Hail to Orlando Brotherson!
Oswald could hardly restrain his mad joy and en-
thusiasm. Bounding to the door separating him
from this conqueror of almost invincible forces, he
pounded it with impatient fist.
" Let me in ! " he cried. " You've done the trick,
Orlando, you've done the trick."
' Yes, I have satisfied myself," came back in
studied self-control from the other side of the door;
and with a quick turning of the lock, Orlando stood
They never forgot him as he looked at that mo-
ment. He was drenched, battered, palpitating with
excitement; but the majesty of success was in his
eye and in the bearing of his incomparable figure.
As Oswald bounded towards him, he reached out
his hand, but his glance was for Doris.
' Yes," he went on, in tones of suppressed elation,
" there's no flaw in my triumph. I have done all that
I set out to do. Now "
Why did he stop and look hurriedly back into the
HIS GREAT HOUR 325
hangar? He had remembered Sweetwater, Sweet-
water, who at that moment was stepping carefully
from his seat in some remote portion of the car.
The triumph was not complete. He had meant
But there his thought stopped. Nothing of evil,
nothing even of regret should mar his great hour.
He was a conqueror, and it was* for him now to reap
the joy of conquest.
THREE days had passed, and Orlando Brotherson sat
in his room at the hotel before a table laden with
telegrams, letters and marked newspapers. The
news of his achievement had gone abroad, and
Derby was, for the moment, the centre of interest
for two continents.
His success was an established fact. The second
trial which he had made with his car, this time with
the whole town gathered together in the streets as
witnesses, had proved not only the reliability of its
mechanism, but the great advantages which it pos-
sessed for a direct flight to any given point. Already
he saw Fortune beckoning to him in the shape of an
unconditional offer of money from a first-class source ;
and better still, for he was a man of untiring
energy and boundless resource that opportunity for
new and enlarged effort which comes with the recog-
nition of one's exceptional powers.
All this was his and more. A sweeter hope, a
more enduring joy had followed hard upon gratified
ambition. Doris had smiled on him; Doris!
She had caught the contagion of the universal en-
thusiasm and had given him her first ungrudging
token of approval. It had altered his whole outlook
on life in an instant, for there was an eagerness in
this demonstration which proclaimed the relieved
heart. She no longer trusted either appearances or
her dream. He had succeeded in conquering her
doubts by the very force of his personality, and the
shadow which had hitherto darkened their intercourse
had melted quite away. She was ready to take his
word now and Oswald's, after which the rest must
follow. Love does not lag far behind an ardent ad-
Famel Fortune! Love! What more could a
man desire? What more could this man, with his
strenuous past and an unlimited capacity for an en-
larged future, ask from fate than this. Yet, as he
bends over his letters, fingering some, but reading
none beyond a line or two, he betrays but a passing
elation, and hardly lifts his head when a burst of
loud acclaim comes ringing up to his window from
some ardent passer-by : " Hurrah for Brotherson !
He has put our town on the map ! "
Why this despondency? Have those two demons
seized him again? It would seem so and with new
and overmastering fury. After the hour of triumph
comes the hour of reckoning. Orlando Brotherson
in his hour of proud attainment stands naked before
his own soul's tribunal and the pleader is dumb and
the judge inexorable. There is but one Witness to
such struggles ; but one eye to note the waste and deso-
lation of the devastated soul, when the storm is over-
Orlando Brotherson has succumbed; the attack was
too keen, his forces too shaken. But as the heavy
minutes pass, he slowly re-gathers his strength and
rises, in the end, a conqueror. Nevertheless, he
328 INITIALS ONLY
knows, even in that moment of regained command,
that the peace he had thus bought with strain and
stress is but momentary; that the battle is on for life :
that the days which to other eyes would carry a sense
of brilliancy days teeming with work and outward
satisfaction would hold within their hidden depths
a brooding uncertainty which would rob applause of
its music and even overshadow the angel face of Love.
He quailed at the prospect, materialist though he
was. The days the interminable days ! In his
unbroken strength and the glare of the noonday sun,
he forgot to take account of the nights looming in
black and endless procession before him. It was
from the day phantom he shrank, and not from the
ghoul which works in the darkness and makes a grave
of the heart while happier mortals sleep.
And the former terror seemed formidable enough
to him in this his hour of startling realisation, even
if he had freed himself for the nonce from its con-
trolling power. To escape all further contemplation
of it he would work. These letters deserved atten-
tion. He would carry them to Oswald, and in their
consideration find distraction for the rest of the day,
at least. Oswald was a good fellow. If pleasure
were to be gotten from these tokens of good-will,
he should have his share of it. A gleam of Os-
wald's old spirit in Oswald's once bright eye, would
go far towards throttling one of those demons whose
talons he had just released from his throat; and
if Doris responded too, he would deserve his fate, if
he did not succeed in gaining that mastery of himself
which would make such hours as these but episodes in
a life big with interest and potent with great emo-
Rising with a resolute air, he made a bundle of his
papers and, with them in hand, passed out of his room
and down the hotel stairs.
A man stood directly in his way, as he made for the
front door. It was Mr. Challoner.
Courtesy demanded some show of recognition be-
tween them, and Brotherson was passing with his
usual cold bow, when a sudden impulse led him to
pause and meet the other's eye, with the sarcastic re-
' You have expressed, or so I have been tld, some
surprise at my choice of mechanician. A man of
varied accomplishments, Mr. Challoner, but one for
whom I have no further use. If, therefore, you
wish to call off your watch-dog, you are at liberty to
do so. I hardly think he can be serviceable to either
of us much longer."
The older gentleman hesitated, seeking possibly
for composure, and when he answered it was not only
without irony but with a certain forced respect :
" Mr. Sweetwater has just left for New York, Mr.
Brotherson. He will carry with him, no doubt, the
full particulars of your great success."
Orlando bowed, this time with distinguished grace.
Not a flicker of relief had disturbed the calm serenity
of his aspect, yet when a moment later, he stepped
among his shouting admirers in the street, his air
and glance betrayed a bounding joy for which another
source must be found than that of gratified pride.
A chain had slipped from his spirit, and though the
330 INITIALS ONLY
people shrank a little, even while they cheered, it was
rather from awe of his bearing and the recognition of
that sense of apartness which underlay his smile than
from any perception of the man's real nature or of
the awesome purpose which at that moment exalted
it. But had they known could they have seen into
this tumultuous heart what a silence would have
settled upon these noisy streets; and in what terror
and soul-confusion would each man have slunk away
from his fellows into the quiet and solitude of his
Brotherson himself was not without a sense of the
incongruity underlying this ovation ; for, as he slowly
worked himself along, the brightness of his look be-
came dimmed with a tinge of sarcasm which in its
turn gave way to an expression of extreme melan-
choly both quite unbefitting the hero of the hour
in the first flush of his new-born glory. Had he
seen Doris' youthful figure emerge for a moment
from the vine-hung porch he was approaching,
bringing with it some doubt of the reception awaiting
him? Possibly, for he made a stand before he
reached the house, and sent his followers back; after
which he advanced with an unhurrying step, so that
several minutes elapsed before he finally drew up be-
fore Mr. Scott's door and entered through the now
empty porch into his brother's sitting-room.
He had meant to see Doris first, but his mind had
changed. If all passed off well between himself and
Oswald, if he found his brother responsive and wide-
awake to the interests and necessities of the hour,
he might forego his interview with her till he felt
better prepared to meet it. For call it cowardice or
simply a reasonable precaution, any delay seemed
preferable to him in his present mood of discourage-
ment, to that final casting of the die upon which hung
so many and such tremendous issues. It was the first
moment of real halt in his whole tumultuous life!
Never, as daring experimentalist or agitator, had he
shrunk from danger seen or unseen or from threat
uttered or unuttered, as he shrank from this young
girl's no; and something of the dread he had felt lest
he should encounter her unaware in the hall and so
be led on to speak when his own judgment bade him
be silent, darkened his features as he entered his
But Oswald was sunk in a bitter revery of his own,
and took no heed of these signs of depression. In
the re-action following these days of great excitement,
the past had re-asserted itself, and all was gloom in
his once generous soul. This, Orlando had time to
perceive, quick as the change came when his brother
really realised who his visitor was. The glad " Or-
lando! " and the forced smile did not deceive him,
and his voice quavered a trifle as he held out his
packet with the words:
" I have come to show you what the world says
of my invention. We will soon be great men," he
emphasised, as Oswald opened the letters. " Money
has been offered me and Read! read! " he urged,
with an unconscious dictatorialness, as Oswald paused
in his task. " See what the fates have prepared for
us; for you shall share all my honours, as you will
from this day share my work and enter into all my
332 INITIALS ONLY
experiments. Cannot you enthuse a little bit over
it? Doesn't the prospect contain any allurement for
you? Would you rather stay locked up in this
petty town "
"Yes; or die. Don't look like that, Orlando.
It was a cowardly speech and I ask your pardon.
I'm hardly fit to talk to-day. Edith "
" Not that name ! " he harshly interrupted.
" You must not hamper your life with useless memo-
ries. That dream of yours may be sacred, but it be-
longs to the past, and a great reality confronts you.
When you have fully recovered your health, your own
manhood will rebel at a weakness unworthy one of
our name. Rouse yourself, Oswald. Take ac-
count of our prospects. Give me your hand and say,
' Life holds something for me yet. I have a brother
who needs me if I do not need him. Together, we
can prove ourselves invincible and wrench fame and
fortune from the world.' '
But the hand he reached for did not rise at his
command, though Oswald started erect and faced him
with manly earnestness.
" I should have to think long and deeply," he said,
" before I took upon myself responsibilities like these.
I am broken in mind and heart, Orlando, and must
remain so till God mercifully delivers me. I should
be a poor assistant to you a drag, rather than a
help. Deeply as I deplore it, hard as it may be for
one of your temperament to understand so complete
an overthrow, I yet must acknowledge my condition
and pray you not to count upon me in any plans you
may form. I know hov/ this looks I know that
as your brother and truest admirer, I should respond,
and respond strongly, to such overtures as these, but
the motive for achievement is gone. She was my
all ; and while I might work, it would be mechanically.
The lift, the elevating thought is gone."
Orlando stood a moment studying his brother's
face; then he turned shortly about and walked the
length of the room. When he came back, he took
up his stand again directly before Oswald, and asked,
with a new note in his voice:
" Did you love Edith Challoner so much as that? "
A glance from Oswald's eye, sadder than any tear.
" So that you cannot be reconciled? "
A gesture. Oswald's words were always few.
Orlando's frown deepened.
" Such grief I partly understand," said he. " But
time will cure it. Some day another lovely face "
" We'll not talk of that, Orlando."
" No, we'll not talk of that," acquiesced the in-
ventor, walking away again, this time to the window.
"For you there's but one woman; and she's a
" Killed 1 " broke from his brother's lips. " Slain
by her own hand under an impulse of wildness and
terror! Can I ever forget that? Do not expect it,
" Then you do blame me? " Orlando turned and
was looking full at Oswald.
" I blame your unreasonableness and your over-
Orlando stood a moment, then moved towards the
334 INITIALS ONLY
door. The heaviness of his step smote upon Os-
wald's ear and caused him to exclaim :
" Forgive me, Orlando." But the other cut him
short with an imperative :
" Thanks for your candour! If her spirit is des-
tined to stand like an immovable shadow between
you and me, you do right to warn me. But this in-
terview must end all allusion to the subject. I will
seek and find another man to share my fortunes;
(as he said this he approached suddenly, and took
his papers from the other's hand) or " Here he
hastily retraced his steps to the door which he softly
opened. " Or " he repeated But though Oswald
listened for the rest, it did not come. While he
waited, the other had given him one deeply concen-
trated look and passed out.
No heartfelt understanding was possible between
these two men.
Crossing the hall, Orlando knocked at the door of
Doris' little sitting-room.
No answer, yet she was there. He knew it in
every throbbing fibre of his body. She was there and
quite aware of his presence; of this he felt sure; yet
she did not bid him enter. Should he knock again?
Never! but he would not quit the threshold, not if
she kept him waiting there for hours. Perhaps she
realised this. Perhaps she had meant to open the
door to him from the very first, who can tell ? What
avails is that she did ultimately open it, and he, meet-
ing her soft eye, wished from his very heart that his
impulse had led him another way, even if that way
had been to the edge of the precipice and over.
For the face he looked upon was serene, and there
was no serenity in him; rather a confusion of un-
loosed passions fearful of barrier and yearning tu-
multuously for freedom. But, whatever his revolt,
the secret revolt which makes no show in look or
movement, he kept his ground and forced a smile of
greeting. If her face was quiet, it was also lovely;
too lovely, he felt, for a man to leave it, whatever
might come of his lingering.
Nothing in all his life had ever affected him like it.
For him there was no other woman in the past, the
present or the future, and, realising this taking in
to the full what her affection and her trust might be
to him in those fearsome days to come, he so dreaded
a rebuff he, who had been the courted of women
and the admired of men ever since he could remem-
ber, that he failed to respond to her welcome and
the simple congratulations she felt forced to repeat.
He could neither speak the commonplace, nor listen
to it. This was his crucial hour. He must find sup-
port here, or yield hopelessly to the maelstrom in
whose whirl he was caught.
She saw his excitement and faltered back a step
a move which she regretted the next minute, for
he took advantage of it to enter and close behind
him the door which she would never have shut of
her own accord. Then he spoke, abruptly, passion-
ately, but in those golden tones which no emotion
could render other than alluring:
" I am an unhappy man, Miss Scott. I see that
my presence here is not welcome, yet am sure that it
would be so if it were not for a prejudice which your
336 INITIALS ONLY
generous nature should be the first to cast aside, in
face of the outspoken confidence of my brother Os-
wald. Doris, little Doris, I love you. I have loved
you from the moment of our first meeting. Not to
many men is it given to find his heart so late, and
when he does, it is for his whole life; no second pas-
sion can follow it. I know that I am premature in
saying this; that you are not prepared to hear such
words from me and that it might be wiser for me to
withhold them, but I must leave Derby soon, and I
cannot go until I know whether there is the least
hope that you will yet lend a light to my career
or whether that career must burn itself to ashes at
your feet. Oswald nay, hear me out Oswald
lives in his memories; but I must have an active hope
a tangible expectation if I am to be the man I
was meant to be. Will you, then, coldly dismiss me,
or will you let my whole future life prove to you the
innocence of my past? I will not hasten anything;
all I ask is some indulgence. Time will do the rest."
" Impossible," she murmured.
But that was a word for which he had no ear. He
saw that she was moved, unexpectedly so; that while
her eyes wandered restlessly at times towards the
door, they ever came back in girlish wonder, if not
fascination, to his face, emboldening him so that he
ventured at last, to add :
" Doris, little Doris, I will teach you a marvellous
lesson, if you will only turn your dainty ear my
way. Love such as mine carries infinite treasure
with it. Will you have that treasure heaped, piled
before your feet? Your lips say no, but your eyes
the truest eyes I ever saw whisper a different
language. The day will come when you will find
your joy in the breast of him you are now afraid to
trust." And not waiting for disclaimer or even a
glance of reproach from the eyes he had so wilfully
misread, he withdrew with a movement as abrupt as
that with which he had entered.
Why, then, with the memory of this exultant hour
to fend off all shadows, did the midnight find him in
his solitary hangar in the moonlit woods, a deeply
desponding figure again. Beside him, swung the
huge machine which represented a life of power and
luxury; but he no longer saw it. It called to him
with many a creak and quiet snap, sounds to start
his blood and fire his eye a week nay, a day ago.
But he was deaf to this music now; the call went un-
heeded; the future had no further meaning for him,
nor did he know or think whether he sat in light or in
darkness; whether the woods were silent about him,
or panting with life and sound. His demon had
gripped him again and the final battle was on. There
would never be another. Mighty as he felt himself
to be, there were limits even to his capacity for en-
durance. He could sustain no further conflict. How
then would it end? He never had a doubt himself I
Yet he sat there.
Around him in the forest, the night owls screeched
and innumerable small things without a name, skur-
ried from lair to lair.
He heard them not.
Above, the moon rode, flecking the deepest shad-
ows with the silver from her half-turned urn, but
338 INITIALS ONLY
none of the soft and healing drops fell upon him.
Nature was no longer a goddess, but an avenger;
light a revealer, not a solace. Darkness the only
Nor had time a meaning. From early eve to early
morn he sat there and knew not if it were one hour
or twelve. Earth was his no longer. He roused,
when the sun made everything light about him, but
he did not think about it. He rose, but was not con-
scious that he rose. He unlocked the door and
stepped out into the forest; but he could never re-
member doing this. He only knew later that he
had been in the woods and now was in his room at
the hotel; all the rest was phantasmagoria, agony
He had crossed the Rubicon of this world's hopes
and fears, but he had been unconscious of the pas-
" Dear Mr. C hall oner:
" With every apology for the intrusion, may I request
a few minutes of private conversation with you this evening
at seven o'clock? Let it be in your own room.
" Yours truly,
" ORLANDO BROTH ERSON."
Mr. Challoner had been called upon to face many
difficult and heartrending duties since the blow which
had desolated his home fell upon him.
But from none of them had he shrunk as he did
from the interview thus demanded. He had sup-
posed himself rid of this man. He had dismissed
him from his life when he had dismissed Sweetwater.
His face, accordingly, wore anything but a propitia-
tory look, when promptly at the hour of seven, Or-
lando Brotherson entered his apartments.
His pleasure or his displeasure was, however, a
matter of small consequence to his self-invited visitor.
He had come there with a set purpose, and nothing in
heaven or earth could deter him from it now. De-
clining the offer of a seat, with the slightest of ac-
knowledgements in the way of a bow, he took a care-
ful survey of the room before saying:
" Are we alone, Mr. Challoner, or is that man
Sweetwater lurking somewhere within hearing?"
" Mr. Sweetwater is gone, as I had the honour of
340 INITIALS ONLY
telling you yesterday," was the somewhat stiff reply.
" There are no witnesses to this conference, if that is
what you wish to know."
' Thank you, but you will pardon my insistence if
I request the privilege of closing that door." He
pointed to the one communicating with the bedroom.
" The information I have to give you is not such as I
am willing to have shared, at least for the present."
' You may close the door," said Mr. Challoner
coldly. " But is it necessary for you to give me the
information you mention, to-night? If it is of such a
nature that you cannot accord me the privilege of
sharing it, as yet, with others, why not spare me till
you can? I have gone through much, Mr. Brother-
' You have," came in steady assent as the man
thus addressed stepped to the door he had indicated
and quietly closed it. " But," he continued, as he
crossed back to his former position, " would it be
easier for you to go through the night now in antici-
pation of what I have to reveal than to hear it at
once from my lips while I am in the mood to speak? "
The answer was slow in coming. The courage
which had upheld this rapidly aging man through so
many trying interviews, seemed inadequate for the
test put so cruelly upon it. He faltered and sank
heavily into a chair, while the stern man watching
him, gave no signs of responsive sympathy or even
interest, only a patient and icy-tempered resolve.
" I cannot live in uncertainty; " such were finally
Mr. Challoner's words. " What you have to say
concerns Edith?" The pause he made was infini-
THE AVENGER 341
tesimal in length, but it was long enough for a quick
disclaimer. But no such disclaimer came. " I will
hear it," came in reluctant finish.
Mr. Brotherson took a step forward. His man-
ner was as cold as the heart which lay like a stone in
; ' Will you pardon me if I ask you to rise? " said
he. " I have my weaknesses too. (He gave no
sign of them.) " I cannot speak down from such a
height to the man I am bound to hurt."
As if answering to the constraint of a will quite
outside his own, Mr. Challoner rose. Their heads
were now more nearly on a level and Mr. Brother-
son's voice remained low, as he proceeded, with quiet
" There has been a time and it may exist yet,
God knows when you thought me in some un-
known and secret way the murderer of your daugh-
ter. I do not quarrel with the suspicion; it was justi-
fied, Mr. Challoner. I did kill your daughter, and
with this hand ! I can no longer deny it."
The wretched father swayed, following the gesture
of the hand thus held out; but he did not fall, nor did
a sound leave his lips.
Brotherson went coldly on :
" I did it because I regarded her treatment of my
suit as insolent. I have no mercy for any such dis-
play of intolerance on the part of the rich and the
fortunate. I hated her for it; I hated her class,
herself and all she stood for. To strike the dealer
of such a hurt I felt to be my right. Though a man
of small beginnings and of a stock which such as you
342 INITIALS ONLY
call common, I have a pride which few of your blood
can equal. I could not work, or sleep or eat with
such a sting in my breast as she had planted there.
To rid myself of it, I determined to kill her, and I
did. How? Oh, that was easy, though it has
proved a great stumbling-block to the detectives, as I
knew it would ! I shot her but not with an ordi-
nary bullet. My charge was a small icicle made de-
liberately for the purpose. It had strength enough
to penetrate, but it left no trace behind it. ' A bullet
of ice for a heart of ice,' I had said in the torment
of my rage. But the word was without knowledge,
Mr. Challoner. I see it now; I have seen it for
two whole weeks. I did not misjudge her condem-
nation of me, but I misjudged its cause. It was
not to the comparatively poor, the comparatively
obscure man she sought to show contempt, but to
the brother of Oswald whose claims she saw in-
sulted. A woman I should have respected, not
killed. A woman of no pride of station; a woman
who loved a man not only of my own class but of my
own blood a woman, to avenge whose unmerited
death I stand here before you a self-condemned crim-
inal. That is but justice, Mr. Challoner. That is
the way I look at things. Though no sentimentalist;
and dead to all beliefs save the eternal truths of
science, I have that in me which will not let me profit,
now that I know myself unworthy, by the great suc-
cess I have earned. Hence this confession, Mr.
Challoner. It has not come easily, nor do I shut my
eyes in the least to the results which must follow.
But I can not do differently. To-morrow, you may
THE AVENGER 343
telegraph to New York. Till then I desire to be
left undisturbed. I have many things to dispose of
in the interim."
Mr. Challoner, very white by now, pointed to the
door before he sank again into his chair. Brother-
son took it for dismissal and stepped slowly back.
Then their eyes met again and Mr. Challoner spoke
his first word :
" There was another a poor woman she
died suddenly and her wound was not unlike that
inflicted upon Edith. Did you "
" I did." The answer came without a tremour.
" You may say and so may others that I was less
justified in this attack than in the other; but I do not
see it that way. A theory does not always work in
practice. I wished to test the unusual means I con-
templated, and the woman I saw before me across the
court was hard-working and with nothing in life to
look forward to, so "
A cry of bitter execration from Mr. Challoner cut
him short. Turning with a shrug he was about to
lift his hand to the door, when he gave a violent start
and fell hastily back before a quickly entering figure
of such passion and fury as neither of these men had
ever seen before.
It was Oswald! Oswald, the kindly! Oswald,
the lover of men and the adorer of women ! Oswald,
with the words of the dastardly confession he had
partly overheard searing hot within his brain ! Os-
wald, raised in a moment from the desponding
invalid to a terrifying ministrant of retributive
344 INITIALS ONLY
Orlando could scarcely raise his hand before the
other's was upon his throat.
" Murderer! doubly-dyed murderer of innocent
women ! " was hissed in the strong man's ears. " Not
with the law but with me you must reckon, and may
God and the spirit of my mother nerve my arm ! "
THE struggle was fierce but momentary. Oswald
with his weakened powers could not long withstand
the steady exertion of Orlando's giant strength, and
ere long sank away from the contest into Mr. Chal-
' You should not have summoned the shade of our
mother to your aid," observed the other with a smile,
in which the irony was lost in terrible presage. u I
was always her favourite."
Oswald shuddered. Orlando had spoken truly;
she had always been blindly, arrogantly trustful of her
eldest son. No fault could she see in him; and
Impetuously Oswald struggled with his weakness,
raised himself in Mr. Challoner's arms and cried in
" But God is just. He will not let you escape.
If He does, I will not. I will hound you to the ends
of this earth and, if necessary, into the eternities.
Not with the threat of my arm you are my master
there, but with the curse of a brother who believed
you innocent of his darling's blood and would have
believed you so in face of everything but your own
"Peace!" adjured Orlando. "There is no ac-
count I am not ready to settle. I have robbed you
346 INITIALS ONLY
of the woman you love, but I have despoiled myself.
I stand desolate in the world, who but an hour ago
could have chosen my seat among the best and great-
est. What can your curses do after that? "
" Nothing." The word came slowly like a drop
wrung from a nearly spent heart. " Nothing ; noth-
ing. Oh, Orlando, I wish we were both dead and
buried and that there were no further life for either
The softened tone, the wistful prayer which would
blot out an immortality of joy for the one, that it
might save the other from an immortality of retribu-
tion, touched some long unsounded chord in Orlan-
do's extraordinary nature.
Advancing a step, he held out his hand the left
one. ' We'll leave the future to itself, Oswald, and
do what we can with the present," said he. " I've
made a mess of my life and spoiled a career which
might have made us both kings. Forgive me, Os-
wald. I ask for nothing else from God or man. I
should like that. It would strengthen me for to-mor-
But Oswald, ever kindly, generous and more ready
to think of others than of himself, had yet some of
Orlando's tenacity. He gazed at that hand and a
flush swept up over his cheek which instantly became
"I cannot," said he "not even the left one.
May God forgive me ! "
Orlando, struck silent for a moment, dropped his
hand and slowly turned away. Mr. Challoner felt
Oswald stiffen in his arms, and break suddenly away,
only to stop short before he had taken one of the half
dozen steps between himself and his departing
' Where are you going? " he demanded in tones
which made Orlando turn.
" I might say, To the devil," was the sarcastic
reply. " But I doubt if he would receive me. No,"
he added, in more ordinary tones as the other shiv-
ered and again started forward, " you will have no
trouble in finding me in my own room to-night. I
have letters to write and other things. A man
like me cannot drop out without a ripple. You may
go -to bed and sleep. I will keep awake for two."
" Orlando ! " Visions were passing before Os-
wald's eyes, soul-crushing visions such as in his blame-
less life he never thought could enter into his con-
sciousness or blast his tranquil outlook upon life.
" Orlando ! " he again appealed, covering his eyes in
a frenzied attempt to shut out these horrors, " I can-
not let you go like this. To-morrow "
" To-morrow, in every niche and corner of this
world, wherever Edith Challoncr's name has gone,
wherever my name has gone, it will be known that the
discoverer of a practical air-ship, is a man whom they
can no longer honour. Do you think that is not hell
enough for me; or that I do not realise the hell it will
be for you? I've never wearied you or any man with
my affection; but I'm not all demon. I would gladly
have spared you this additional anguish; but that was
impossible. You are my brother and must suffer
from the connection whether we would have it so or
not. If it promises too much misery and I know
348 INITIALS ONLY
no misery like that of shame come with me where
I go to-morrow. There will be room for two."
Oswald, swaying with weakness, but maddened by
the sight of an overthrow which carried with it the
stifled affections and the admiration of his whole life,
gave a bound forward, opened his arms and fell.
Orlando stopped short. Gazing down on his
prostrate brother, he stood for a moment with a
gleam of something like human tenderness showing
through the flare of dying passions and perishing
hopes; then he swung open the door and passed
quietly out, and Mr. Challoner could hear the laugh-
ing remark with which he met and dismissed -the
half-dozen men and women who had been drawn to
this end of the hall by what had sounded to them like
a fracas between angry men.
FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING
THE clock in the hotel office struck three. Orlando
Brotherson counted the strokes; then went on writ-
ing. His transom was partly open and he had just
heard a step go by his door. This was nothing new.
He had already heard it several times before that
night. It was Mr. Challoner's step, and every time
it passed, he had rustled his papers or scratched vigor-
ously with his pen. " He is keeping watch for Os-
wald," was his thought. " They fear a sudden end
to this. No one, not the son of my mother knows
me. Do I know myself ? "
Four o'clock I The light was still burning, the pile
of letters he was writing increasing.
Five o'clock 1 A rattling shade betrays an open
window. No other sound disturbs the quiet of the
room. It is empty now; but Mr. Challoner, long
since satisfied that all was well, goes by no more.
Silence has settled upon the hotel; that heavy
silence which precedes the dawn.
There was silence in the streets also. The few who
were abroad, crept quietly along. An electric storm
was in the air and the surcharged clouds hung heavy
and low, biding the moment of outbreak. A man
who had left a place of many shadows for the more
open road, paused and looked up at these clouds; then
went calmly on.
350 INITIALS ONLY
Suddenly the shriek of an approaching train tears
through the valley. Has it a call for this man?
No. Yet he pauses in the midst of the street he is
crossing and watches, as a child might watch, for the
flash >of its lights at the end of the darkened vista.
It comes filling the empty space at which he stares
with moving life engine, baggage car and a long
string of Pullmans. Then all is dark again and only
the noise of its slackening wheels comes to him
through the night. It has stopped at the station. A
minute longer and it has started again, and the quickly
lessening rumble of its departure is all that remains
of this vision of man's activity and ceaseless expect-
ancy. When it is quite gone and all is quiet, a sigh
falls from the man's lips and he moves on, but this
time, for some unexplainable reason, in the direction
of the station. With lowered head he passes along,
noting little till he arrives within sight of the depot
where some freight is being handled, and a trunk or
two wheeled down the platform. No sight could be
more ordinary or unsuggestive, but it has its attraction
for him, for he looks up as he goes by and follows
the passage of that truck down the platform till it
has reached the corner and disappeared. Then he
sighs again and again moves on.
A cluster of houses, one of them open and lighted,
was all which lay between him now and the country
road. He was hurrying past, for his step had un-
consciously quickened as he turned his back upon the
station, when he was seized again by that mood of
curiosity and stepped up to the door from which a
light issued and looked in. A common eating-room
FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING 351
lay before him, with rudely spread tables and one
very sleepy waiter taking orders from a new arrival
who sat with his back to the door. Why did the
lonely man on the sidewalk start as his eye fell on the
latter's commonplace figure, a hungry man demand-
ing breakfast in a cheap, country restaurant? His
own physique was powerful while that of the other
looked slim and frail. But fear was in the air, and
the brooding of a tempest affects some temperaments
in a totally unexpected manner. As the man inside
turns slightly and looks up, the master figure on the
sidewalk vanishes, and his step, if any one had been
interested enough to listen, rings with a new note as
it turns into the country road it has at last reached.
But no one heeded. The new arrival munches his
roll and waits impatiently for his coffee, while with-
out, the clouds pile soundlessly in the sky, one of them
taking the form of a huge hand with clutching fingers
reaching down into the hollow void beneath.
MR. CHALLONER had been honest in his statement
regarding the departure of Sweetwater. He had not
only paid and dismissed our young detective, but he
had seen him take the train for New York. And
Sweetwater had gone away in good faith, too, possibly
with his convictions undisturbed, but acknowledging
at last that he had reached the end of his resources.
But the brain does not loose its hold upon its work as
readily as the hand does. He was halfway to New
York and had consciously bidden farewell to the
whole subject, when he suddenly startled those about
him by rising impetuously to his feet. He sat again
immediately, but with a light in his small grey eye
which Mr. Gryce would have understood and rev-
elled in. The idea for which he had searched in-
dustriously for months had come at last, unbidden;
thrown up from some remote recess of the mind which
had seemingly closed upon the subject forever.
" I have it. I have it," he murmured in ceaseless
reiteration to himself. " I will go back to Mr. Chal-
loner and let him decide if the idea is worth pursuing.
Perhaps an experiment may be necessary. It was
bitter cold that night; I wish it were icy weather now.
But a chemist can help us out. Good God! if this
should be the explanation of the mystery, alas for
Orlando and alas for Oswald ! "
AT SIX 353
But his sympathies did not deter him. He re-
turned to Derby at once, and as soon as he dared,
presented himself at the hotel and asked for Mr. Chal-
He was amazed to find that gentleman already up
and in a state of agitation that was very disquieting.
But he brightened wonderfully at sight of his visitor,
and drawing him inside the room, observed with
" I do not know why you have come back, but
never was man more welcome. Mr. Brotherson has
" Confessed! "
' Yes, he killed both women ; my daughter and his
neighbour, the washerwoman, with a "
" Wait," broke in Sweetwater, eagerly, " let me
tell you." And stooping, he whispered something in
the other's ear.
Mr. Challoner stared at him amazed, then slowly
nodded his head.
" How came you to think " he began ; but
Sweetwater in his great anxiety interrupted him with
" Explanations will keep, Mr. Challoner. What
of the man himself? Where is he? That's the im-
portant thing now."
" He was in his room till early this morning writ-
ing letters, but he is not there now. The door is
unlocked and I went in. From appearances I fear
the worst. That is why your presence relieves me
so. Where do you think he is? "
354 INITIALS ONLY
" In his hangar in the woods. Where else would
he go to "
" I have thought of that. Shall we start out alone
or take witnesses with us ? "
" We will go alone. Does Oswald anticipate "
" He is sure. But he lacks strength to move. He
lies on my bed in there. Doris and her father are
" We will not wait a minute. How the storm
holds off. I hope it will hold off for another hour."
Mr. Challoner made no reply. He had spoken
because he felt compelled to speak, but it had not
been easy for him, nor could any trifles move him
The town was up by this time and, though they
chose the least frequented streets, they had to suffer
from some encounters. It was a good half hour be-
fore they found themselves in the forest and in sight
of the hangar. One look that way, and Sweet-
water turned to see what the effect was upon Mr.
A murmur of dismay greeted him. The oval of
that great lid stood up against the forest background.
" He has escaped," cried Mr. Challoner.
But Sweetwater, laying a finger on his lip, ad-
vanced and laid his ear against the door. Then he
cast a quick look aloft. Nothing was to be seen
there. The darkness of storm in the heavens but
nothing more. Yes ! now, a flash of vivid and de-
structive lightning !
The two men drew back and their glances crossed.
AT SIX 355
" Let us return to the highroad," whispered
Sweetwater; " we can see nothing here."
Mr. Challoner, trembling very much, wheeled
' Wait," enjoined Sweetwater. " First let me
take a look inside."
Running to the nearest tree, he quickly climbed it,
worked himself along a protruding branch and
looked down into the open hangar. It was now so
dark that details escaped him, but one thing was cer-
tain. The air-ship was not there.
Descending, he drew Mr. Challoner hastily along.
" He's gone," said he. " Let us reach the high
ground as quickly as we can. I'm glad that Mr. Os-
wald Brotherson is not with us or or Miss Doris."
But this expression of satisfaction died on his lips.
At the point where the forest road debouches into
the highway, he had already caught a glimpse of their
two figures. They were waiting for news, and the
brother spoke up the instant he saw Sweetwater :
"Where is he? You've not found him or you
wouldn't be coming alone. He cannot have gone
up. He cannot manage it without an assistant. We
must seek him somewhere else; in the forest or in our
house at home. Ah I " The lightning had forked
" He's not in the forest and he's not in your
home," returned Sweetwater. " He's aloft; the air-
ship is not in the shed. And he can go up alone
now." Then more slowly: "But he cannot come
356 INITIALS ONLY
They strained their eyes in a maddening search
of the heavens. But the darkness had so increased
that they could be sure of nothing.
Doris sank upon her knees.
Suddenly the lightning flashed again, this time so
vividly and so near that the whole heaven burst into
fiery illumination above them and the thunder, crash-
ing almost simultaneously, seemed for a moment to
rock the world and bow the heavens towards them.
Then a silence; then Sweetwater's whisper in Mr.
" Take them away ! I saw him ; he was falling
like a shot."
Mr. Challoner threw out his arms, then steadied
himself. Oswald was reeling ; Oswald had seen too.
But Doris was there. When the lightning flashed
again, she was standing and Oswald was weeping on
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